Yes, that is a 260-year-old building with a giant pineapple on the roof.
Don't you LOVE THAT?! Here's a closeup:
When I heard that The Pineapple, or the Dunmore Pineapple as it's sometimes called, was close to Falkirk, I knew I had to go. I couldn't pass up something that wacky.
So I hopped on a bus yesterday morning -- sans Dave, who decided to stay behind at the hotel for a day of rest -- and rode out to the village of Dunmore, near the Firth of Forth. I walked a bosky path through woods and barley fields until I found myself in a walled garden, surrounded by an orchard, blooming roses and a pond. The Pineapple, which was originally built in 1761 as a summer house for the landowners of this area, presides over the garden.
You can apparently rent the Pineapple as a place to stay, but I didn't have the forethought to pull that together. I had to settle for seeing it from the outside. But that was fine!
After looking around a while, enjoying the rustling wind and the birdsong, I took a path leading through the adjacent woods to a dirt road. Google Maps had shown me that this dirt road would circle around again to the main road near the village.
I passed through an area of logged forest (I think) where foxgloves were growing in profusion. I don't think I've ever seen so many foxgloves in one place!
I passed the now-ruined estate of Dunmore Park, once home to the Earls of Dunmore. They were also behind the construction of The Pineapple. But while The Pineapple has rightly been preserved and is now owned by the National Trust of Scotland, the rest of Dunmore Park has sadly fallen into disrepair.
I didn't try to visit the house, which, as you can see, would have entailed hiking across a field of tall grass. Apparently it's not much more than standing walls and chimneys at this point.
I did look in on the former stables, which are closer to the road...
...but they didn't seem entirely safe, so I didn't go in.
Farther on, I visited the village of Dunmore, with its tidy, manicured village green and Victorian stone houses. It was redeveloped during the 1800s, replacing the earlier shanties of workers who panned for salt in the river.
And I visited Elphinstone Tower (above), an even earlier ruin on the Dunmore Park estate. Apparently it was once used as a mausoleum, but fortunately there are no bodies there now. It's merely a picturesque tower with a stone cornice at the top and some beautiful wild ferns around the open doorway.
I caught the bus back to Falkirk and met Dave for lunch, before taking a photo walk through town. I got back to the hotel about 6 p.m. We decided to stay here for the evening, which meant risking the hotel restaurant again -- but this time I chose more wisely and had a pretty good meal. It's hard to mess up red wine and macaroni and cheese.
Oh, and I must clarify one thing about my "bad martini" stories from the past few days. Some of my commenters suggested I was expecting something unreasonable by ordering a martini in Scotland. But both of the restaurants where I placed those orders had martinis on the menu -- they specifically offered to make me a dry gin martini! It's not like I walked in whistling Yankee Doodle Dandy and demanded something the hapless Scots had never encountered before. I just have to point that out, in my own defense.