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Sunday, 10 August 2014

Today's Walk - Hill of Tarvit, Fife

We enjoy being members of the National Trust.  Implicit in that statement is an acceptance of impending decrepitude, I know it, but there, I've said it.  We even do the full 'grimble' bit and take a flask and our own sandwiches. You won't catch us paying tea-room prices!  Oh no.
I like gardens and antiques, and Barry likes paintings.  So, it's the houses and castles which we particularly enjoy as members.  Its stewardship of Glencoe and Staffa and other scenic areas does not matter quite so much to us - we go to lots of wild, beautiful places and whether they are managed by the National Trust or not doesn't really impact on our visit - although I daresay they do look after them well, and the free parking you get as a member is handy. And the toilets are always good - so important as one gets older...
Yesterday we had a work-related trip to Dundee, and so clutching our trusty N.T. cards and our flask we carried on over the Tay Bridge afterwards and headed into Fife, to the Trust property at Hill of Tarvit. It's just outside Cupar.
It stands on the site of an older building that dated back to the 16th century (I think).  None of that seems to have been preserved, which seems a shame.  The current building was designed by Scottish architect Robert Lorimer for the Sharp family, Dundee jute magnates.  It was used as a family home and housed their large and impressive collection of tapestries, paintings and 'objets' until the mid-twentieth century, when it was used as a maternity hospital and then a hospice.  In the late 1970s it was taken over entirely by the National Trust and the house and gardens restored.   Paintings which caught my eye included works by Raeburn, Ramsay, Wilkie, Fantin Latour and Breughel the Younger, and there are many more, for example interesting still-lifes and winter scenes by early Dutch artists whose names were not familiar to me.  I liked the furniture, and the ephemera, especially the arts and crafts lamps and the chandeliers, and the tiny, intricate Japanese bronzes and ivories.  The inside of the house was designed by Lorimer around the Sharps' collection, so everything feels integrated, and there's a calming colour scheme of greens and sea-blues.  And of course, as you find in many Trust houses, there is a spectacular kitchen packed with all sorts of fascinating 'kitchenalia' from days of yore.  Copper pans, jelly moulds, wooden butter pats, stone crocks, ancient Hoovers and so forth.
The well-kept terraced garden has a lovely herbaceous border and there's a hill walk beyond, which we did not do due to the terrible weather. There's also a small golf course and a croquet lawn, with the opportunity to play.
The house and grounds were busy.  It seems to be a popular place and I expect the golf course is a draw for many.  I think, given that we get in for 'free' as members, I'd probably like to return on a dry day for a game of croquet and further exploration of the grounds.  Overall it can't compete with the other major Fife NT properties, Kellie Castle and Falkland Palace, lacking as it does their history, but after all it isn't a Castle, it's a House, and it offers something different. .

From the terraced garden

Flight of steps leading through and up the terraced garden

Hollyhocks in the herbaceous border

Looking down towards the croquet lawn and the golf course

The Rose Garden

Red Admiral butterfly enjoying the terrace

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