Crackpots Mosaic Trail

A walk to find 22 mosaic tiles in the countryside east of Kirby Malzeard Moor and Dallowgill Moor
Google Maps Open Source Maps

Statistics and Files
Start: Tom's Corner Grid Ref: SE 17807 72619 Distance: 7.0 miles (11.2 km)
Climbing: 250 metres Time: 3-4 hours Rating: Moderate
GPX Route File Google Earth File About Kirkby Malzeard
Start: Old Byland Grid Ref: SE 55006 86001
Distance: 6.8 miles (10.9 km) Climbing: 274 metres
Time: 3-4 hours Rating: Moderate
GPX Route File Google Earth File
Ordnance Survey Explorer Map (1:25,000)

Summary: This enjoyable trail around part of Dallowgill is illuminated with 22 mosaics depicting local scenes and flora and fauna which might be encountered along the route. The trail was created as part of a community project to celebrate the designation of Nidderdale as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The mosaics were made in 1997 by "The Crackpots" from Kirkby Malzeard who met regularly under the expert supervision of Margaret Murphy from Rural Arts North Yorkshire. (Source: Nidderdale AONB)


The Walk:

Lil at the start near Tom's CornerLil at the start near Tom's Corner
Carlesmoor Beck on Kirkby Malzeard MoorCarlesmoor Beck on Kirkby Malzeard Moor

Sixteen years earlier, during a walk of Kirkby Malzeard Moor I had come across a few mosaics in the south-east corner of the moor and on the lane to Carlesmoor. However I had not known they were part of a mosaics trail until much later. "I must do that" I thought to myself and parked it for quite a while, travelling far and wide to explore in other parts of the UK instead. The pandemic of 2020 put paid to my wandering off into the distance for a while so out came the local 'put aside for another day' walks and in locking at the list of walking options I found it again. So on one day of boredom in the summer of travel restrictions but between lockdowns I said to Lil "I have a great idea sweetheart, fancy finding a lot of painted mosaic tiles", adding "just seven miles and no real climbs. And we can take our time. We have all day an can picnic halfway around". It was on her distance limit but with the reassurance that I would not rush she was up for it. So off we went on a lovely sunny and warm day in high summer to find all twenty two mosaics. arriving in at Tom's Corner on the south-east edge of Kirkby Malzeard Moor we found the first mosaic as soon as we got out of the car. It was in fact the last in the round, number twenty two the Roman Soldier so we banked it. Then we set off on the round, walking down the Kirkby Malzeard road to the path leading north on the edge of the moor to Carlesmoor Beck. Mosaics one and two, Sheep and Red Grouse were easily found by the road side and number three the Dragonfly conveniently placed by the water at the crossing on Carlesmoor Beck.

Me and the snakeMe and the snake
The lane to CarlesmoorThe lane to Carlesmoor

A short climb from the beck of just six metres took us to the fourth mosaic. The Adder which had been one of the few I had come across all those years ago. The snake was placed on a large stone with an arrow etched into the stone conveniently pointing our way from the moor to the drystone walled lane leading to the scattering of farms and homesteads which complement Carlesmoor. A field side full of attractive Harebells painted the view blue and green before we entered the enclosure of the drystone walls. A little further on we arrived at Carlesmoor House Farm where farm machinery, some used, some redundant and in decay, was scattered on the edges of the track and a huge pile of black polythene wrapped silage was stacked on the right hand side. After the farm the track was lined by woodland on the right and the occasional tree on the left. It was a lovely avenue to walk.

Lil and the goats at Kirk BridgeLil and the goats at Kirk Bridge
Cackling Geese at Kendal Bank FarmCackling Geese at Kendal Bank Farm

We had been descending since the start and still were so the going was very easy. Not long after passing Carlesmoor House Farm we found the next mosaic, number five the Potato House near a cottage between Carlesmoor House Farm and Low Farm. And then after a the junction of paths which I had used on that previous walk and near a cottage called the Grange with gorgeous colourful flower displays bordering the path we came to the sixth mosaic. It was called the Sighting Tower, appropriately so as it was near the real sighting tower I had walked past on the 2006 walk. The sighting tower is one of the Colsterdale Towers which were constructed conduct surveys during the construction of Leighton reservoir and Roundhill reservoir, other proposed reservoirs and accompanying pipelines. Next up on our walk along the lovely lane leading from Carlesmoor we passed Low Farm where a sheepdog secured in a horse box barked constantly from the time it spotted us until we were out of sight. A ginger cat stood next to the horse box fixed eyes on the penned up dog wondering what all the fuss was about. Soon after we arrived at stock field full of Goats. Cut grass had been piled up by the field gate for the Goats to reach out and eat. Lil gave them a helping hand which they really appreciated. Both she and the Goats enjoyed that. Then, on resuming the walk we reached Kendal Bank Farm. A dingy old green caravan with containers piled up next to ones of its windows were in a field beside the farm and on the verge fronting the property a chap was working on an old van which looked as if it had not moved for years. "Good luck to him, that will be quite a job if he gets that going". I said to Lil. Next we passed two very loud cackling Geese who sent us on our way, now climbing from crossing Carlesmoor Beck just before Kendal Bank Farm to the end of the lane at the Kirkby Malzeard village to moor dead end road. Here we found the Wild Rose mosaic. Number seven done.

Greystone Head Road to Kirkby MalzeardGreystone Head Road to Kirkby Malzeard
Footbridge over South Gill BeckFootbridge over South Gill Beck

After a short climb up the Greystone Head Road which had we continued on for two miles would have taken us into Kirkby Malzeard, we turned right to track down the unmade lane leading down to creation point of the River Laver where North Gill Beck and South Gill Beck meet. On the way down the lane we bagged the Greater Spotted Woodpecker, the eighth mosaic. After a brief break for a drink and a sandwich in the company of the ninth mosaic, one of a Friesian Cow, we continued on the lane and in doing so we found mosaic ten, Flag Iris and Tadpoles and mosaic eleven, Brown Trout. However, the fish was slippery and proved to be the most difficult of all the mosaics to find. It was near the footbridge of South Gill Beck but the leaflet I was using suggested to me that it was on the south bank. It was in fact on the north bank and it took me ten minutes of scratting around to net it. That was because I had unnecessarily headed halfway up Belford Lane on the far side of South Gill Beck looking either side of the lane looking for it before Lil persuaded me to go back to look around where it ought to be. She was right, I eventually found the Brown Trout nestled on the riverbank beside the foot of a ten trunks tree.

Showy Great Hairy Willowherb on the roadsideShowy Great Hairy Willowherb on the roadside
The Moorhouse Pub and HotelThe Moorhouse Pub and Hotel

Lil and I were on the first sustained climb of the trail now, ascending from South Gill Beck by way of unmade Belford Lane to a bend in a tarmac road where an access track led east to Hogerston Hill House. The lady from the house was working in the field beside the access road and calling for her dog. Unsuccessfully at first because the fluffy pet had taken a shine to Lil, running from the field and up the road to meet her. After a pat and some pampering from Lil we persuaded it to return to home. The lady, now in conversation with us said it often does that with passing walkers. Even as we walked away heading south to a road junction the dog attempted to join us but instinctively knew when to stop and turn tail. Just short of the road junction we found a creation of four leaves, mosaic number twelve and on the road junction we arrived at the Curlew, mosaic number thirteen. As with most hospitality establishments this sad year it was empty and desperately silent on a lovely summer day when it would normally be bustling with activity. On the roadside verge next to the buildings was a tiled picture of Beer and Boots. Mosaic number fourteen done, eight to go.

View north from near Castiles FarmView north from near Castiles Farm
The pretty hamlet of DallowThe pretty hamlet of Dallow

Continuing along the road we passed a farm, a sign pointing south-east to Drift Lane and then a junction where we left the road to follow Dallow Lane downhill towards the hamlet of Dallow. Our eighty metre climb from crossing the footbridge of South Gill Beck was complete. On the crest of the bank we found the Bluebells, mosaic fifteen. Thereafter we ambled downhill while looking over the north roadside wall to the beautiful countryside of Dallowgill and over the valley to the south of Kirkby Malzeard Moor. It was a fine view indeed. Then we passed a cottage with a long attached barn before walking into the gorgeous hamlet of Dallow. When walking through we greeted an elderly gentleman who was calling his dogs from the garden of his home and continuing through we arrived the south east edge of Dallowgill Wood. Peering over a stock fence protecting the woodland gave us sight of Fungi, mosaic number sixteen. As I was taken a photograph of the mosaic the gentleman and his dogs approached. What happened next was pure gold.

Lil and Terry Holman, the Stick Man of DallowLil and Terry Holman, the Stick Man of Dallow
Path leading into Dallowgill WoodPath leading into Dallowgill Wood

From a social media post I made in the evening on the day of the walk:

Sometimes a walk in the countryside provides a moment of pure magic. Today's walk of the Crackpot Mosaic Trail near Kirkby Malzeard in North Yorkshire provided such a moment. When my wife Lil and I were walking through the hamlet of Dallow, just after we met an elderly gentleman walking with his two dogs and we walked with him for a while before we stopped near two seats by the path side. "I stop here" he said. "This is my spot; I made these two seats from old pallets for me and anyone who happens to walk this way to enjoy". Lil and I then sat with him for fifteen minutes to talk with him. In fact to listen to his stories, all of them being so interesting. We had just met Terry Holman of Dallow, eighty seven years young. Known as the Dog and Stick man of Dallowgill he was a thorough gentleman to talk with. After listening to stories about his childhood in a village near Middlesbrough during World War Two and of his years serving as gamekeeper on Kirkby Malzeard and Dallowgill Moors we were most entertained. After our enthralling time we had to leave and he said "Thank you for taking the time out to talk with me". I told him it had been our pleasure. "Do come along this way again won't you. I have enjoyed meeting you too" he said as we waved goodbye. Encounters like this are what makes life such a wonderful thing. Thank you Terry.

Following the magical time with Terry Lil and I continued on the walk by descending the path leading down through Dallowgill Wood to Dallow Gill Beck. We smiled all the way down, Terry's affection and charming way having fixed the grins on our faces.

Footbridge over Dallow Gill BeckFootbridge over Dallow Gill Beck
The climb from Dallow Gill BeckThe climb from Dallow Gill Beck

Down at Dallow Gill Beck we crossed a sturdy wooded footbridge and immediately found mosaic number seventeen, Deer. It was the second time I had seen this mosaic, the first time on a Dallowgill Moor walk around seven or eight years earlier. We climbed the steep rising track from Dallow Gill Beck through the woodland to the path leading west on the north edge of the woodland. On the way I found mosaic eighteen, Rabbits in a field which I had to make a short diversion to and then back on the woodside path I found the Owl which is mosaic nineteen. These two I had also come across before on that Dallowgill Moor walk. From the Owl the next few hundred metres of walking along the edge of the woods was so delightful, a handsome mix of mature fern, lush grass and sunlit green trees filling our eyes.

The path at Stang BraeThe path at Stang Brae
Glittering CopseGlittering Copse

Throughout the walk Lil and I had enjoyed the most spectacular sunny weather. And as it was high in the summer sky we felt its power when deprived of shade. Now six miles in Lil was starting to feel it and I kept reassuring her with "Only a mile to go".... "less than a mile to go now". It helped a little in raising her morale but not in relieving her fatigue. The smiles from meeting Terry on the way down to Dallow Gill Beck had been sapped on the seventy metre climb out of the woods. And now we were entering the open fields of unrelenting sunshine. Just before we did so, at Stang Brae we reached a small copse of glittering sun rays piercing the high canopy. We rested for five minutes there before the final push to the finish.

Crossing fields to Bents HouseCrossing fields to Bents House
The ditch up to Near Toady BankThe ditch up to Near Toady Bank

Four field crossings took us to a farmstead where we found the twentieth mosaic appropriately named Bents House after the property. Then after we walked a long half mile over a dozen or more fields to Potter Lane, the next field managed a little slower than the last. To her credit Lil kept her spirits up as best she could. She was now simply tired. I do this walking lark all the time. She doesn't. A Red Kite soaring overhead in its majestic effortless flight diverted her from the thought of more stomping for a short while which was good and some curious cows in one field entertained us too. A sheep hiding in an isolated barn who eyed us as we eyed it on the walk past was fun too. With these diversions we reached Potter Lane, turning from westward to northward on the final leg home. Soon near a field barn we found mosaic twenty one, the Pheasant. "Just a couple of hundred metres to go sweetheart" perked her up to walk beside a ditch up to Near Toady Bank and sight of the car. Where the Roman Soldier was waiting for us. Mosaic twenty two. All done. Despite being tired Lil was so pleased she had done the walk and seen all the mosaics on the way around. So was I. The crackpots have designed a cracker.

Endpiece: On reading this story I recieved the following story from James Cunningham of Winchester: We have done this walk many times over the years with our children. Around 13 years ago we met Terry the stick man, and he showed us into his workshop and introduced our children to his dogs. He was also hatching some chicks that day and our youngest got to hold an egg whilst the chick hatched in her hands. We've never forgotten Terry and his kindness. Just like you, it really made our day meeting him. So glad to hear he is keeping well. To this day, I always regretted not asking if I could buy one of his sticks, they really were amazing. We're returning next Easter to Yorkshire, so I think it's time for another visit to the Mosaic trail.

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