If you drive through Kirkby Malzeard and take signs to Dallowgill, you’ll find yourself leaving rolling green Nidderdale countryside for a more open and bleaker moorland landscape. There’s a place called Tom Corner where you can park, and that’s where you can start the Crackpot Trail.
The Crackpot Trail? Well, back in 1996, Rural Arts worked with a group of villagers in Kirkby Malzeard to devise and make a series of 22 mosaic plaques to distribute over the route of this circular walk. They chose subjects to celebrate what the walker might see en route: animals, birds and flowers such as sheep, curlews, fungi: local features such as the Potato House, where potatoes used to be stored: and there right at the beginning of the walk, a Roman centurion, to commemorate the fact that many years ago, Roman bones were excavated at this rather wild and windy spot.
It’s a wonderful walk to see the varied landscape of this part of the Dales. From the moorland, where at this time of year heather is just beginning to burst into bloom….
…. the path takes you back to gentler, farmed countryside, with views of stone-built farms and hamlets across the hillsides.
You’ll cross peaty streams…….
….. and walk though ancient oak woods which at the right time of year are carpeted in bluebells. There’s a bit of everything, even a lunch spot about half way round, at a former pub, the Drover’s Arms, which sadly burnt down in 2013. But the fire didn’t get the picnic tables: they’re still there for you to sit and eat your sandwiches.
A perfect, easy and enjoyable day, because this varied, pretty and scenic walk is a mere six and a half miles. You’ll be home in time for tea.