The curiously named Crackpot Hall is an abandoned 18th-century farmhouse that lies in ruins near the village of Keld in Swaledale. The name is said to be derived from the Viking word “pot,” meaning a deep hole, and an Old English word for crow, and it is also the name of a cave nearby.
Little is known about the history of the mysterious structure, which was abandoned in 1953 because of subsidence caused by lead mining nearby. It is now an intriguing and impressive ruin in an equally impressive location; the crumbling house sits on the edge of a remote hillside in the Yorkshire Dales, surveying the valley below.
Wandering around the atmospheric remains you inevitably start to wonder about the secrets this old stone farmhouse holds. The old fireside range is still in situ, and there is a rusty tin bath on the stone floor in front of the fire, a poignant reminder of the former lives lived in this place.
Folk stories about the abandoned house also abound, in particular one about Alice, a four-year-old child who is said to have been discovered roaming “wild” near Crackpot in the 1930s. A BBC radio 3 documentary has more recently established that Alice was, in fact, a young girl who lived at Crackpot Hall with her family, including her five brothers and sisters, and these hills and valleys were her playground.
Know Before You Go
You can walk to Crackpot Hall from either Keld or Muker. It is situated approximately 1 mile east of Keld, at grid reference NY906008.