We take a look at The Bronte Trail around Great Ouseburn, which features in this year’s Boroughbridge Festival of Walks.
The Bronte Trail follows in the footsteps of Anne and Branwell Bronte. From 1840 to 1845, Anne Bronte was employed as a governess to the Robinson family at Thorpe Green Hall. Her brother Branwell was also employed there for some of that time. The people and surroundings inspired literary work by both of them.
The walk is five miles (8km) and should take two-and-a-half hours at a steady pace. Start at the walk interpretation panel on Great Ouseburn Village Hall. Follow the route shown by the green way markers. Be aware that Thorpe Green Lane can be busy at the start and end of the school day.
Walk along Main Street to St Mary’s Church. Turn left through the churchyard, which contains a railed obelisk in memory of Dr John Crosby, a good friend of Branwell.
Following country lanes and a short stretch of road, turn onto Mill Lane. In 1842, at Long Plantation, Anne Bronte wrote her three-verse poem Lines Composed in a Wood on a Windy Day, which was published in 1846 under her pen-name of Acton Bell.
Kirby Hall was demolished in the 1920s but in the distance some of the service buildings can still be seen. It was still a fine Palladian-style mansion when Anne used it as an influence for Ashby Hall in her novel Agnes Grey.
Beyond Low Farm, take the footpath, known in Anne’s day as Bowsers Lane, which emerges at Thorp Head, close to the River Ouse. Branwell Bronte’s poem Lydia Gisborne begins “On Ouse’s grassy banks – last Whitsuntide, I sat, with fears and pleasures, in my soul commingled, as it roamed without control”.
Moss Hill Lane was Moss Lane in Agnes Grey and, at its junction with Thorpe Green Lane, glimpse Monks’ Lodge above a tall wall, where Branwell stayed. His sketch of the building still survives.
The main building of what is now Queen Ethelburga’s College stands on the site of Thorpe Green Hall where Anne was employed, which became Horton Lodge in Agnes Grey. The original was damaged by fire and the new hall built in 1895.
Follow the narrow road that Anne and the Robinsons took every Sunday to worship at Holy Trinity Church in Little Ouseburn.
At the entrance to Thorpe Grange Farm the ‘ridge and furrow’ strips can be seen in the field that gave its name to the Stripe Houses, the influence for the cottages visited by Agnes and the Murray girls.
Pass HolyTrinity Church and cross the bridge to the spot from which Anne sketched the church.
Follow the roadside footpath back to Great Ouseburn.
l The Boroughbridge Festival of Walks takes place over Easter. For a full list of walks, events and sponsor forms visit www.boroughbridgewalks.org.uk