The 2013 CPRE/Cheshire Life writing competition - winners revealed

Cheshire CPRE Chairman, Andrew Needham, with President, Lord Grey of Codnor, with the award winners

Cheshire CPRE Chairman, Andrew Needham, with President, Lord Grey of Codnor, with the award winners (L-R); Oliva McGrath, Jack Whiteley, Michael Nicholas, Noah Kenley, Oliver Nickson, Matthew Strong, Ella Slater and Sam Kerkhov. - Credit: Archant

Meet the young winners of this year’s CPRE/Cheshire Life writing competition. Their favourite local beauty spots inspired them to put pen to paper PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN COCKS

Spectacular Peckforton Castle, near Tarporley, was the inspirational setting for the prize-giving ceremony to reward this year’s winners and runners-up of the CPRE/Cheshire Life writing competition.

Once again the literary skills of youngsters who love our countryside impressed the CPRE President Lord Grey of Codnor. He was accompanied in the task of judging this year by local MP Stephen O’Brien and Cheshire Life Editor Louise Allen-Taylor.

The CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England) is a charity which has been fighting to protect the countryside since 1926. We invited aspiring young writers and nature lovers to tell us about their special place in Cheshire. Here are the winners and runners-up and their prose.

Winners and runners-up. Their work is published here for Cheshire Life readers to enjoy.


winner: Michael Nicholas

Most Read

Runner-up: Ella Slater

Highly Commended: Lucy Rose Brookes

Honourable Mention: Grace Robinson


Winner: Olivia McGrath

Winner: Max Hussey

Runner-up:Oliver Nickson

Highly Commended: Jack Whiteley

Honourable Mention:Megan Louise Leek

Honourable Mention:Edward Bryce

8 and under

Winner: Matthew Strong

Runner-up: Noah Kenley

Honourable Mention: Sam Kerkhov

Winner: 11+ Michael Nicholas (from Winsford)

Dearest Delamere

My favourite place in Cheshire is Delamere Forest. It is a nice place for walks and when walking through Delamere and looking at Blakemere Moss, you can’t help but think “I wonder what could be under that lake?”

Delamere has many parts. The long, winding, root-woven tracks, the leering trees that seem to move when your back is turned, the deep mysterious Blakemere Moss compels you to defend yourself when passing by lest a Kelpie drag you into the mire.

There are many more creatures that you may see when walking through the forest. The Cheshire Cat from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ by Lewis Carroll is my favourite. He may look like he’s smiling but his grin is an innocent mask to hide his plots. When walking you may see a rock formation that looks like a feline face, a tree trunk with a knot that resembles a cat’s eye or a branch that looks like a tail, and you hear that birdsong that seems to be mocking you. The moss that grows like stripy fur can fool you into thinking that you are not alone.

If Delamere was ever placed under threat I would feel quite helpless to stop it. No one person can make a difference but if we work together we will make a huge change.

Delamere forest should be conserved for it we turned it into a town or a housing estate, where would all the animals and other flora and fauna go?

Runner-up 11+ Ella Slater (from Grappenhall)

Grappenhall Village Centre

Cheshire is where I have lived all my life. Without it, I don’t think that I would be the person that I am, because its wonderful countryside and beautiful landscapes have inspired me tremendously. One of my favourite places is the village centre of Grappenhall, Warrington. I was born here and I am still living here.

One of my top places in Grappenhall Village Centre is the St Wilfrid’s Church. This is home to a carving of a cat, which is supposedly the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat (by Lewis Carroll). Also, I favour the canal, which runs in front of my house. It is fascinating to watch the decorative narrow boats sail slowly down it, to a backdrop of greenery.

If Grappenhall Village Centre was ever under threat, I would feel extremely downhearted. It has so many years of history that I just would not be able to bear the thought that they were all being threatened. As the Grappenhall community is strong and determined, I am sure that we would not give up all hopes. In every appropriate way possible, we would fight against the threat, and I would contribute as much as I could.

Grappenhall Village Centre means so much to me: I went to primary school there, pre-school there, I went to Church there (where I was confirmed) and my local Brownie group was there. I would feel so crestfallen and angry if the village centre was threatened, but I wouldn’t stop trying.

Joint winner age 9-10 - Olivia McGrath - Ryleys School

The Edge

The area that is truly special to me is the Edge in Alderley Edge. It is a glorious woodland, famous for its beauty and breath-taking views of the Cheshire Plains. The Edge slings a sack filled to the brim with history, mystery and legend over its shoulder. It’s an ideal place to take your dog for a walk and has been mined for copper since the Bronze Age.

At the edge, the scenery is mind-blowing, especially at autumn, my personal favourite time of year. In autumn, the ground is ablaze with fiery gold and crimson leaves. As you walk through the trees, as bright as the sun, you can smell the pine and feel the mud squelching beneath your feet. The wind whistles in your face and ears and rustles in the trees. You can stand still and feel the rough bark of the trees between your fingers and hear the trickling of the water, noisy people and children playing.

The Devil’s Grave is fascinating because of the rumours about it. They say that if you run around it anticlockwise 3 times you will wake the Devil himself! When I was a very small child I used to enjoy leaping over the crack with my friends and trying to wake the Devil.

There are 2 quarries in the Edge, the Alderley Quarry and the Church Quarry. The entire wood is sandstone; this was mined, carved and used to decorate the exterior of peoples houses.

Joint winner age 9-10 -Max Hussey, Parkgate School

Burton Woods

Burton Woods is my favourite place in Cheshire. It is a wood in Burton village. If these woods were under danger, I would write a letter to the council. I would also write to Ed Milliband, leader of the Labour Party, my local MP Andrew Miller, and the Prime Minister David Cameron.

It is an ancient woodland, looked after by the National Trust. It has lots of wildlife in it. There are squirrels, even red squirrels, and lots of interesting birds. I found a buzzard’s nest there once! There is a massive fallen down tree. It has got a badgers sett under it. When my friends and I go to Burton woods we climb along the trunk of the big fallen tree. I go walking and tree climbing there, which is my favourite things to do.

I love apple, blackberry, acorn picking and den building. We took my new dog there for his first walk. One time when I went apple picking with my friends we collected so many apples that we decided to make apple crumble and apple sauce. I made them both and actually it was my idea to make the apple sauce – it was yummy! Also when I went blackberry picking and I made a mistake and they were a bit sour but that was so funny and on that day I found an acorn and to this day I have been waiting for it to grow.

Winner 8 and under category: Matthew Strong, Parkgate School

Hello my name is Matthew and I think I am lucky because I live in a village called Parkgate. I am going to tell you about things I like to do in my area. I like playing in Parks field with my kits and playing football on it with Dad. It is a big wide open space with football goals and trees.

I like the cricket club because it has lots of different sports like tennis, cricket, squash, bowls, hockey and football. My favourite is hockey.

I like the Wirral Way because you can ride your bike and walk along it. It used to be a train track but now it is a path. In the autumn I collect leaves and splash in puddles.

I like the marshes because you can look at lots of different birds like Mr Heron, Egrets and Canada geese. I can see Moel Famau in Wales when I have my special Parkgate ice cream sitting on the wall.

I like Earle Drive because I can collect conkers, ride my bike and walk it back up to my house.

I would be devastated if anything happened to Parkgate.

Runner-up 8 and under: Noah Kenley, Parkgate

I remember the first time I went to Beeston Castle it was a lovely breezy summer day. The walk up to the castle was a hard walk but well worth it. As I reached the castle I looked behind and was blown away by the fantastic views that surrounded me. I loved looking at the old castle walls and well. I wondered how far down that well went so got a stone to throw in… it’s pretty deep!

I have read that there’s money down there that Richard II had hidden. I took lots of pictures too that day. My mum had brought a lovely picnic for us to eat while enjoying the views of Cheshire and the Welsh hills. As I sat there enjoying my ham sandwich I saw a Virgin train pass by in the distance. I could hear it from the castle.

As we made our way back down the steep hill, we came across some caves, unfortunately I couldn’t get in because English heritage have put a metal fence around them. I have to say that Beeston Castle is one of the best sight seeing locations in Cheshire and should not be missed. I am so lucky to live in such a wonderful part of the world.

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