As far as unusual architecture goes, the Dunmore Pineapple just might be the strangest building in Scotland. It’s also rather hard to find, especially using Google Maps. On the suggestion of Visit Falkirk, I made it out to the Pineapple House to see just what was so special.
What is the Dunmore Pineapple
Pineapples were first brought to Europe from Guadeloupe by Christopher Columbus in 1493. They were considered an extremely rare and expensive delicacy. In 1761, John Murray built a greenhouse to grow pineapples next to his two walled gardens in Scotland. After the garden structures were built, Murray went to become the last Colonial Governor of Virginia. He returned to Scotland in 1776, and sometime thereafter he added a folly to the top of the garden house.
A folly is a decorative structure that doesn’t really have a purpose. They can look like a simple tower or something more extravagant and unique – like a giant, 46-foot tall pineapple. It’s uncertain exactly when the Dunmore Pineapple was built as a folly above the walled garden, but it’s certainly the most unique structure in its region of Scotland, although it’s not too far from the Kelpies.
Getting to the Dunmore Pineapple
The Dunmore Pineapple is a bit isolated in the Scottish countryside, and it’s not entirely easy to get to it. There is the F16 bus that goes to the Pineapple from Falkirk or Stirling. Get off at the North Green Drive stop in Airth and walk about 500 feet north along the highway. Make a left onto the road that goes to Cowie, and then an immediate right at the fork. Follow the potholed dirt road for about half a mile to the entrance of the Dunmore Pineapple. If you’re going by car, you can follow the same directions. There’s a small parking lot outside the gardens.
Unfortunately, Google Maps doesn’t currently give accurate directions to the Pineapple. It will try to take you to a private road to the north of the Pineapple with signs and cameras to prevent trespassing. Humorously, my taxi took me to this spot and then spent 10 minutes trying to convince me there was no way to get to the Pineapple. Thankfully, I was able to find the road in, as I was sure the tourism board hadn’t recommended an attraction that was inaccessible.
Exploring the Woodland Trails
There are several short trails to explore around the Dunmore Pineapple. Obviously, the Pineapple House itself and the walled gardens are the main attraction. Beside the garden is a small pond where newts live. Primary schools in the area bring kids on field trips to the Pineapple to research the newts and get some nature.
The entrances to the garden give the sense that you’re stepping into a beautiful secluded spot, just like the Secret Garden. You kinda are, but the garden isn’t exactly spectacular, such as the garden at Drummond Castle. But it’s still nice to walk around the trails and through the forest around the gardens.
If you go through the gate to the left of the pineapple, you’ll eventually get to the ruins of the Dunmore House where they filmed a scene in the first episode of Outlander, one of the many filming locations in Falkirk. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about the house when I was at the Pineapple, and I was also short on time, so that will be on my itinerary the next time I’m in Falkirk.
Sleep at the Dunmore Pineapple
Probably the best feature of the Dunmore Pineapple is that you can rent it as a B&B! Well, you won’t get breakfast, but four people can stay there for a weekend. The minimum booking is 4 days, but the rent is a spectacular £264, or $338. If four people stay for the four days, that comes out to only £16, or $20 a night per person. Make your reservation for the Dunmore Pineapple with the Landmark Trust, which also managed other cottages and bothies (a small Scottish hut, often abandoned) to stay at around the UK.
Update: The Landmark Trust advertizes staying at the Pineapple for as little as £264 for 4 nights, but in trying to book myself, I didn’t find a 4-day period within the next year that was less than £500. While it’s not as cheap as I was led to believe, it’s still one of the more unique places to stay in Scotland.
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