A convoluted, cobbled-together route around a Pineapple

This is the most level walk you’ll ever do, notwithstanding railway lines and towpaths. With one gentle exception it’s as flat as a pineapple pancake. Note that some of the obvious paths on the map are private, the locals being understandably a bit uptight about irresponsible walkers, so you should stick firmly to public footpaths, even if this does mean a very convoluted route. The well-established woodland drives are beautiful and there are unexpectedly good views of the Ochils across the Forth. Many of the paths take you, depending on the season, between ripening wheat and barley. Dunmore is a well-known conservation village and the pedestrianised centre of Airth has many 17th and 18th century buildings. And then there’s The Pineapple! The area has an interesting history which you might look up on the websites below. The whole walk is nearly ten miles, but it clearly divides into two circles and you can opt out either at The Pineapple if you have a car, or in Airth where there is a fine church, old buildings, two pubs and three coffee shops! If you intend doing this it would be worth printing off some information about both Airth and The Pineapple.

Park at the car-park at the NTS monument ‘The Pineapple’. To get there:

This is the easiest of trips and at about 28 miles should normally take about 35 minutes. Take the M8 from Glasgow towards Edinburgh and then the M80/A80 off to the left, sign-posted Stirling etc. This is an easy and fast run. Follow what is now a motorway towards Stirling/Kincardine Bridge/Perth etc. for about 20 miles. Just past the road to Denny you’ll see the first signpost for the M876 to Kincardine Bridge. Keep in the inside lane and you’ll automatically go off on the M876 (while the middle and outer lanes go on to Stirling and Perth). The A905 is well-sign-posted from the M876 to Airth, Skinflats and Larbert. Go down the slip road to a roundabout and take the left-hand turn (first exit) to Airth. Go through Airth, past the Airth Castle Hotel, to where a brown tourist sign on the right points to the NTS ‘The Pineapple’ on the left. It’s about two miles from the roundabout. Turn left here and then sharp right up a dirt track. Go past a sign for Landmark Trust cottages and then turn right as signed for the car park. There are no toilets at The Pineapple (or anywhere else!) but you are surrounded by woods.

 

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The walk

Begin with a swirl around The Pineapple since that is what you have come to see! From the car-park, take the left-hand path which leads to a pond covered with green moss and apparently full of Great-crested newts which are being scientifically monitored. Already you can see the great Pineapple across the lawns but you’ll soon come out at the Gardens (private/closed) and walk down the main driveway to take photos. Then return to the garden wall, take a path which is little more than a mowing in the lawn and go through a gap in the wall on the left-hand side of the Pineapple. This woodland path takes you left around the Private Gardens and on to a wider forest track where you turn left. At a crossroads of paths continue straight on and to the dirt track you drove up, almost, but not quite, back to the car-park.

 

Instead of returning to the car-park take the track past the Landmark Trust notice and continue to a sign-post marking a path down to what is called ‘St Andrew’s Drive’ This great track sweeps round the grounds, with lovely views of the River Forth and the Ochils. At an unmarked track to the left it’s worth detouring to find the tower, just about visible through the undergrowth. At a T-junction turn right and go down to a gate across the track and on to the A905. Continue straight on past Dunmore Home Farm (Sutherland Estates) which bends down to the river. It’s worth turning in left here, across a little bridge to sit on the river bank perhaps for lunch. lunch. (You can go all the way to South Alloa but it was tricky and the bus back is only every hour. OK if you time the bus.)

 

Go back over the little bridge and take the river path to Dunmore, a picturesque conservation village. You ought to do a swirl around here! The path straight south from the village takes you back across the A905 and on to St Andrew’s Drive nearly to the car park. Here endeth the first circle.

 

The walk continues down the drive and out, for a few yards left, and then right on to the road. Then it cuts in again on a dirt track towards Airth Mains. At a junction turn left down towards the old part of Airth where you can stop to admire the Mercat Cross etc. Continue down to the A905, straight down Shore Road to the river again. Here turn right to take a dubious path along the river bank, which turns right again along a road to the golf course, the A905 and the entrance to Airth Castle Hotel. Take the little path on the left sign-posted to Letham Woods. At the end, turn right, and then right again to come back to the Castle. Go through the main entrance and turn left along a road which soon becomes a dirt track, again with extensive views. You’ll recognise the way back, straight on to the A905 past a prosperous looking Airth Mains Farm, down to the road, turn left, left again and then right up the track to the car park.

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