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SPRING 201227?PLACESWWW.NTS.ORG.UKextremesGoing to You may feel you've seen a goodnumber of Trust properties - buthave you taken this as far as youcan? See which of these you haveyet to enjoy, suggests Don CurrieBIZARRESTThe PineappleThis tower near Stirling, the Trust's only fruit-shapedstructure, is a wonder, with its curly stone leaves andmagnificent topping. The Pineapple itself is 45ft talland stands on a Palladian pavilion. John Murray, the4th Earl of Dunmore, built it in 1761, as a gardenretreat and a symbol of wealth. This eccentrictreasure brings a smile to visitors' faces but there ismuch else to admire at the property, with itsorchard, woodland walks and pond.HIGHESTBen MacduiThe summit of this renowned mountain in theCairngorms is the highest point on Trust land, at1,309 metres, or 4,295 feet. Ben Macdui is part ofthe vast Mar Lodge estate, and has much tocommend it - wildlife, interesting plants, scenery,history and even the mysterious Big Grey Man. Golden eagles breed after years of conservationwork by Trust staff and volunteers, and alpine plantsfound in no other region of Britain flourish here. The Big Grey Man has been reported many times,and has been compared to the Yeti of the Himalayas.There have been few sightings, and these may havebeen meteorological effects in which a shadow ofthe witness is cast on to cloud. But many walkershave reported alarming sounds or a "presence". In 1925 John Norman Collie gave a description ofhis encounter. He said: "I was returning from thecairn on the summit in a mist when I began to thinkI heard something else than merely the noise of myown footsteps. Every few steps I took I heard aFrom left: sheer follyat The Pineapple; agolden eagle at MarLodge Estate, whichincludes Ben Macdui;the unassuming CaiyStane in Edinburgh

28SPRING 2012PLACES?crunch, then another crunch as if someone waswalking after me but taking steps three or four timesthe length of my own. As I walked on and the eeriecrunch, crunch sounded behind me I was seizedwith terror and took to my heels." Most walkers return with nothing worse thanblisters. It is the second highest mountain in Britain,beaten only by Ben Nevis. Ben Macdui was oncethought to be higher than its Lochaber rival, butthat this proved untrue is a blessing. Every year100,000 people climb Ben Nevis, and the walk is along slog amid a procession of red-faced charityfund-raisers. On Ben Macdui numbers are nowherenear so high, and the experience is generallysuperior. Rainfall is lower than in the west and yourchances of a clear day, with endless views, are good. SMALLESTCaiy StaneJust nine feet high and five feet wide, the Caiy Staneis small in stature but big in appeal, especially forthose who delight in discovering objects of interestin unlikely places. It stands quietly - silently, in fact- not on a windswept hilltop but among the neathedges of Fairmilehead, an Edinburgh suburb.This block of red sandstone may have been put upin the Neolithic period, about 5,000 years ago, tomark a ritual or burial place. Other theories are thatit was a monument to a battle between Picts andRomans, or to a 17th-century battle involving OliverCromwell's army.NEWESTRobert Burns Birthplace MuseumOpened in 2011, the museum has been a massive hitwith visitors and Burns scholars alike. It is a focalpoint for people coming to see the birthplace itselfas well as the other attractions of Burns Country,such as the Bachelors' Club, Souter Johnnie'sCottage and the Burns Monument. But technology,commissioned art and bold design have made themuseum a destination in its own right. Interactiveexhibits include an electronic facsimile of theKilmarnock Edition of Burns poems, and there is aspecially compiled glossary. The museum immersesthe visitor in the world of Burns while feeling highlymodern - nowhere more so than in the café, with itsglass walls and vaulted wood ceiling.HOLIESTIonaThis beautiful island has played a vital role inScotland's Christian story ever since St Columbaarrived here in AD 563 and went on to spread thegospel throughout the country. Pilgrims have visitedfor centuries and continue to do so, worshipping inthe abbey, attending retreats and taking time toVillagers on Hirta, St Kilda, who left theisland in 1930, right;the Robert BurnsBirthplace Museum,centre; sunnyprospect on Iona,below