A neat way to scythe through your work

One man went to mow: Using a scythe is a traditional way of maintaining grassland.
One man went to mow: Using a scythe is a traditional way of maintaining grassland.

The traditional art of scything was the focus of attention for a group of enthusiasts when they gathered at Keasden Head Farm, Clapham.

Under the expert tuition of Steve Tomlin, the 10 participants spent a weekend learning how to set up and use a scythe, as well as how to maintain it.

After completing some warm-up exercises, the group took their first cautious swings of the blade using a tai-chi movement, that participants had mastered by the end of the weekend.

“People all over the UK are discovering the scythe as a practical and efficient way of managing their land,” says Steve. “These training courses are always lots of fun and it’s great to be here in the Dales passing on skills.”

Ruth Pullan, who took part in the course, said: “The course was really enjoyable and useful. Thanks to Steve’s tips on how to improve my technique, and how to be energy-efficient while mowing, I now feel confident I could mow my orchard using the scythe. It’s such a quiet and peaceful way to manage the land, better than using a strimmer.”

The course was organised by the Forest of Bowland AONB and the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) as part of the Hay Time meadow restoration partnership project. Don Gamble, Hay Time Project Manager, said: “Interest in scything is really taking off, and it was great to see everyone having a good time mastering the scythe. I’d like to thank Steve for the training and Sheila Mason for hosting the course.”

There is a practical reason for training people in scything as well – course participants will be invited to help manage meadows and other grassland areas, that are in danger of becoming over-grown because they are no longer being cut.