Northern Scythe Festival Results

This year’s Northern Scythe Festival took place on a new site in the Forest of Bowland. The festival field was on a farm nestled up in the hills with great views out to the coast, including in the distance, Blackpool tower.

Richard, Jim, Chris and Peter race in final to become Champion

The participants who came were treated to unlimited quantities of lovely lush Lancashire grass to mow. The festival field, had been fertilised, then shut-up late on 14th May and by the 3rd July had seven weeks of dense lush grass growth (mainly ryegrass and clover). This provided a real contrast in mowing experience to the grass down south at Muchelney, and in the East where it is becoming increasingly dry and parched.

The grass, still wet from the previous days rain, was easy to cut, but he 5 x 5 times were 60% slower than those achieved in Somerset on account of the extra weight of grass that had to be moved with each swipe.

Good numbers of visitors came to the festival on the Saturday for guided tours in the meadow, hay time demonstrations, and scything.

The competition on the Sunday was quite a small affair with only 14 competitors. It was nonetheless a great competition – relaxed and fun, but with a determined competitive vibe. It was also a chance for Jim and Chris to compete (having been too busy to compete in Somerset).

 Time (min:secs)Quality Award
Richard Brown02:3581st Overall
Peter Blackwell02:4082nd Overall
Chris Riley03:5273rd Overall
Jim McVittie04:356.51st Veterans
Shane O’Reilly05:356.52nd Veterans
Martin Stevens07:597 
Joseph Haywood07:286 
Norman Bush10:198Best Newcomer & 3rd Veteran
Sarah Robinson13:4791st Womens & Quality
Iain Manfield10:355 
Hannah Holden08:5242nd Womens
Jane O’Reilly13:3553rd Womens
Averil McClelland14:293 

The ceramic trophy cups and medals were created by Sarah Robinson – who won two herself!

The Festival was hosted by Helen (pictured right mowing a 5 x 5 ) at the appropriately named ‘Gathering Fields’ – see also photo details below.

..and finally I would like to raise a toast to “the little gentleman in the black velvet waistcoat” who entered the competition – in Peters 5 x 5 plot to be precise -without whom I may not have been victorious!

3 thoughts on “Northern Scythe Festival Results

  • Hi all,

    How great, enjoyed watching the competition. Marvellous to spend time together for the greater good. You’re all winners!!

    Just wondering how you keep your tools so super sharp – from small cutting tools to shears & loppers etc I was left some old tools for the garden, would love to use them but too blunt. No scythes among them but that’s what I need. Your thoughts greatly appreciated. Many thanks Audrey

    • Audrey

      Basic sharpening is fairly easy to do but you need to know what type of edge is required on the tool in question. For example shears (and scissors) are sharpened on one side while a knife is usually sharpened on both sides. Loppers could be either depending on whether they are of the bypass (think scissor) or anvil (think knife) type. Generally the harder work a tool does the greater the angle you sharpen at though usually you just follow the angle already on the tool.

      You could look out for videos on the web to get ideas but it is better to get someone to show you. I would volunteer but live a long way away near Cambridge.


    • Hi Audrey,
      I cannot add to the good advice from Jim except for you to consider this book by Sean Hellman if you can find a coal mentor to help you. I know it is pricey so consider the purchase an investment in your skills and development, or just wait and search around on book selling sites such as Abebooks for a better price.
      I wish successful sharpening,

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