Immerse yourself in the winning entries from our 2023 Creative Writing Competition

by Poppy Roou
19th January 2024

In 2023 The Chase & Chalke team launched the Creative Writing Competition, and over 80 of you responded to the theme ‘Cranborne Chase: A Sense of Place’ with an amazing range of entries. From short poems, to long form pieces.

We’ve learnt so much over the course of the competition.

Our wonderful panel of expert judges took to the task of delving into your wonderful words, and selecting the pieces that they felt best represented the response to the theme. Thank you to all entrants to the competition!



Age Category 8 – 15




My Dad is a Butterfly


My Dad is a Butterfly because they die quickly.

My mum is a grasshopper because she is always active.

My cat is the wind because he is uncontrollable.


– A Young Person from Seeds4Success


Judge’s comment: 

Estelle Phillips: The drawing of emotion in this stand-out poem made it an easy winner. 


Age Category 15 – 25




All Roads


I was warned one day in my future when I reach a certain age I like all men will converse solely in road names. The A35 or M3 or Smugglers Lane or I don’t know will have to wait and find out.

But for now they are lines on a map on my little phone screen. Once it was stars or Romans straight-up now I don’t know how but I’m directed out of Wimborne towards Cranborne past the new houses 30 miles an hour butsuddenlyfasterpast50towards60aroundthebendsandthecorners and

Out into the open again. Green fields all around. If I rolled my window down maybe I could slow down and smell the grass or hear the birds weeping overhead. If I rolled the window down, slowed to a stop…

But I can’t because radio and because


Even as I pass Horton and there’s an awkward turning –

At least no tractors on the road today.


Instead? I could list all the dead things I’ve seen on this path to Salisbury. That sorrowful feeling when you encounter the roadkill some fresh some stale but all once alive and interesting and doing their own thing.

A rabbit. A young deer. Pheasants always pheasants they must be like lemmings leaping headlong into the road.

Badgers poor things. Have I ever seen a living badger?

Wouldn’t surprise me if one of us had run over and crushed a unicorn tbh. Not me but it could have been you or your neighbour or one of the other commuters rushing rushing all the way to Salisbury or Shaftesbury or Ringwood because must get out of here as soon as possible.

Never slow down. Never take it all in.

I love the view of out of my car window when I don’t look down. When I don’t consider the roads and where it’s slow and where it’s quick.

Radio over the rushing.

Knowlton Church is pretty cool it’s one of those places where I take friends who’ve never been to Dorset before. We wait out the ghosts but they outlast us because ghosts are never in a rush.

The land is ancient and feels ancient, doesn’t it? There’s a richness to the green like all the thousands of years of people have breathed more green into it. I wish all the painters from the South of France had discovered Dorset and Wiltshire because they would have been inspired. Wordsworth and Shelley and Keats could’ve holidayed to Broad Chalke and written wonderous things.

Guess it’s down to us. If we stop rushing rushing.

Drive on towards the Spire. It pokes out beyond the natural beauty but I’m not saying it isn’t beautiful it’s got its own majesty.

Rushing on to work and to play and to see friends and to escape.

Want to come back I will come back.

One day I won’t need my phone I’ll know the roads like the back of my hand.

I’d like to learn their names.


– Rohan Gotobed


Age Category 26 +




Feeling Fontmell Down


Fontmell Down

Placing my liver speckled hands on the

Screaming cantering vines

That envelope the smooth as mother of pearl

Bark of Sparkling Silver Birch

A soft sigh dents my tight chest

I look Up

I reach between its bony stiff knuckled crevice

And languish in its knit one pearl one lichens

Comforted in unexpected beauty of edges



The line of Stirps along

The gossiping tittle-tattling grasses

A merest tickle of their concertina leaves

Detonates a thrumming thunderclap

Cannons discharge up from magna

These Masts will see you home to safe harbour

Signing the power of attorney shows me

A shaking root

Of anxiety he works hard to mask

One by One the Birches will Fall

Some brutally, some fading away from inside

Leaving the deepest loneliness of being the last to fall

But thinking they had this forever view

This Line of Silver Birches



One by One the Silver Stirps will fall

Some suddenly, others gracefully fade

Knowing they had this forever view

Holding up the gales from Fontmell Down

Creating only the merest tickle on their sharp concertina Leaves

Masts of this coracle whispering wood

With no mammal noises

Gusts barely lifting fresh Horse Chestnut

The chalk ridge blows with pursed lips

Until the proud line defending this place

A microclimate of stillness

Behind the Birches


– Annie Philpott


We have also compiled a page where you can immerse yourself in all the runner up entries and the special commendations from the competition.

View the page here.