Northern Scythe Competition 2021

A report by Jim McVittie.

The Site

Peter Blackwell farms at Bell Sykes farm near Slaidburn in the Forest of Bowland AONB and thanks to the efforts of himself, his father and his grandfather has some of the best wild-flower meadows in Lancashire. Peter had allocated the whole of a four acre field which gently sloped towards the river. It was a mass of flowers with yellow rattle, eyebright, red clover, meadowsweet and, particularly, greater burnet in profusion. The sward was wonderful to mow and there was plenty to do so we all got practising for the competitions

5 by 5 Competition

Although the grass was quite heavy, the mowing was lovely and some very good times were logged.
Peter Blackwell was the male winner with a time of 2 minutes combined with an almost perfect 9 for quality.

Sarah Robinson, who has been heavily involved with the AONB Hay Meadows project at Pater’s for ten years, won the women’s cup with a time of 5:04 and a quality of 6. So, both the locals won and congratulations to them both.

The best English scyther was Terry Standen but Heidi Marwan must be mentioned as arrived on Saturday with an English Scythe bought of Ebay which she could not use and went on to compete well. She is, by default, the Women’s English champion. For what is is worth, I won the Veteran class. Hard luck again Shane!

Peter Blackwell02:009
Richard Brown02:088
Steve Tomlin02:095.5
Daimon Green02:237
Terry Standen02:267
Jim McVittie02:498.5
Simon Cooter02:516
Ron Cumberbatch04:095
Joseph Hayward05:017.5
Sarah Robinson05:046
Jayne O’Reilly05:105.5
Martin Stevens05:526
Shane O’Reilly05:587
Jo Green06:156
Heidi Marwan06:305
Mary Ellis08:448.5
(table presented in time order)

We had some plots left over so we mowed them while the judges worked out the scores. I was able to try out Richard’s 110cm blade which was quicker than my beloved 85cm Profisense but I could not get as good quality. The extra plots also gave a chance for less experienced scythers to mow out of the public gaze and for some impromptu team mowing including a husband and wife team who mowed half a plot each – hers was much better.

Team plots

We adopted the Richard Brown style of team plots with 40m strips 2m wide and teams of four. We held the team competition after the small plots and used the times from them to allocate mowers to each team. This worked well and gave well balanced teams with much to mow for. The top team was Steve, myself, Jayne and Jo. There as several factors to take into account when allocating lengths to each team member but I will not elaborate as I might lose my tactical advantage!


A big thanks to Peter for allowing us to tack onto his Meadows day which was on the Saturday and to the whole Blackwell family for all the work they put into the event. Thanks also to Sarah and her colleagues at the AONB for their hard work and to the AOBN volunteers who helped with raking and time keeping. Sarah also made the wonderful medals and procured the competition cups, thank you.

A hard act to follow, Peter but we all look forward to next year.

Postscript: Everyone just kept on mowing so that, after a couple of hours work on Monday, Peter and I finished the field. That is probably the first time that it has been cut by scythe in over a hundred years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *