The Hall


You can’t get to Crackpot Hall on a bike, well, not a proper bike anyway. For much of the valley the road follows the river down the hill, sometimes high above the water, sometimes at stone skimming level, sometimes river bank jostling road verge, sometimes removed to a more personal space respecting distance, but for a few miles the river has its valley to itself. People lived in The Hall for two hundred and fifty years but the last resident family left in their pyjamas on a dark and stormy night, the sudden self awareness that they just couldn’t face riding MTBs any more and needed to move somewhere more accessible occurring on the same night the combination of heavy rain and the effects on the integrity of the hillside of a couple of hundred years of miners digging holes in it caused their home to collapse around them. Once people lived here, worked here, loved here, lay awake on Saturday mornings watching their partner sleep, shouted to the children that tea was ready, mopped frosty morning condensation from the windows, poured kettles of hot water from a big iron range into a tin bath, posted selfies on facebook and all this they managed without power, water or 4G mobile coverage. Now there are just some lonely old stones. When the last family left here in the fifties it wasn’t just a home which was lost but a way of life. Now all that can be heard, here as in other places, is the blowing of the wind, the munching of the sheep, and the clicking of those ridiculous pointy telescopic poles which nobody seems to be able to walk even to the postbox without nowadays but if you stand very still on this abandoned bit of the valleyside and close your eyes you might still just be able hear the setting down of tea mugs on a kitchen table, the barking of a dog chasing its own tail and children running across the farmyard but for that you have to get there very early in the morning.

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