At first glance, Crackpot Hall just looks like any other ruined house. It’s hard to immediately see why it’s so well-known. There may be plenty of other romantic ruins in the Yorkshire Dales, but Crackpot Hall is certainly the best known, despite its seemingly remote location near Keld in Swaledale. It’s on the crossroads of the Coast to Coast Path and the Pennine Way.
Crackpot’s very name intrigues. Like many Dales names, it originally came from old English, and Viking times. ‘Crack’ is another name for a crow, and a ‘pot’ is a cave or deep hole. ‘Hall’ makes it sound like it was once a grand house and yet it was at most a hunting lodge or large farmhouse.
One of the myths associated with Crackpot Hall started in the 1930s when the two authors and historians, Marie Hartley and Joan Ingleby wrote about a young girl called Alice who seemed to run freely with her dogs in the countryside around Crackpot. The way they described her laugh made her sound a little crazy and over time stories of a waif-like ghost child developed. The isolated setting fed such stories and sense of intrigue.
David Almond made a radio programme about these stories after he tracked down the real Alice who told him she had once lived at Crackpot hall with her farming family and she did what many Dales children still do today… simply played outside and enjoyed the surrounding meadows…
Now walkers make mini pilgrimages to this lovely spot. Apart from the ruined house and the vestiges of the sheep pens and cowus, there is little of the house left to see but the beauty of the setting always remains. You might like to follow this route suggestion to reach Crackpot Hall.