Cranborne Chase: A Secret Landscape


It has been called a ‘secret landscape’ – and not just because there doesn’t seem to be a sign anywhere directing you to ‘Cranborne Chase’. Or if there is, author and photographer Roger Lane hasn’t found it yet.
‘Perhaps it is the most appropriate description because it isn’t too well-known, even among longstanding residents,’ he says. ‘I have often been asked exactly where it is and what it is.’

Fifield Bavant was used for the 2005 Pride and Prejudice film – the location fee paid for the restoration of the church.

As with the Blackmore Vale, boundary definitions vary, but broadly Cranborne Chase is the chalk downland that spreads out on either side of the Blandford to Salisbury road, extending into three counties – Dorset, Wiltshire and Hampshire.

Famous Zig Zag Hill, just outside Shaftesbury

It is peppered with Neolithic and Bronze Age burial mounds, bisected by the six-mile Dorset Cursus and the Roman road known as Ackling Dyke, which runs from Old Sarum to Dorchester via Badbury Rings.
As its name suggests, the Chase was once a royal hunting forest which naturally made it a battleground for poachers and gamekeepers and a refuge for smugglers and criminals.

In 1875 Berwick St John almost became the Paddington of Cranborne Chase

In Cranborne Chase: A Secret Landscape (Amberley), Roger Lane and his friend Roger Holman, who died before the book’s completion, take us on an A-Z tour of the villages and other locations, starting with Ackling Dyke and finishing with Win Green. The pair are well-known for their stunning landscape photographs and these, together with Roger Lane’s informative text, make this book a must-read for anyone with a love of the picturesque Cranborne Chase.

The summer landscape of the Chalke Valley.

The updated 2023 paperback version of Cranborne Chase: A Secret Landscape is available direct from Amberley for £14


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