Wimpole Scythe Competition Results 2011

It is nearly time for the 5th Eastern Counties Scything and Smallholding Weekend held at Wimpole Hall (NT) near Cambridge  23-24 June 2012.

As a reminder of the fun and excitement had last year here are the full (previously unpublished) results and report from the event host Simon Damant with youtube video links to see more. video

Field Mowing Competition


Quarter of an Acre

  1. Simon Damant              2 hr 40 min    8      ridged and (small) tufts         7’ 7” cut width
  2. George Montague        2 hr 32 min    5       inconsistant but improved    6’ 9” cut width
  3. Andy Coleman              3 hr 16 min     3      very poor quality at end         9’3” cut width
  4. Andy Marczeski           5 hr 36 min   4.5     poor cut but inconsistant       7’ 3” cut width
  5. Richard Morris             6 min 32 sec   7       uneven swath height              125hp tractor!

 Eighth of an acre

  1. Richard Brown               2.46 hours    6          improved as cut                   6’ 11” cut width
  2. Beth Tilston                                                       bravely started                    6’ 0” cut width


  • No changing of blades
  • Broken snaths can be changed
  • Peening allowed
  • 15 minutes to be added for each quality point below the best score
  • Started  07.00 hrs Saturday morning
  • Judge Jim McVitte (quality scoring and comments above)

Team mowing

  1. George Montague, Beth Tilston, Chris Riley & Andy Coleman     4.48 mins     Q 9
  2. Richard Brown, Andy Marczeski, Ded Kalaj & Mark Ricketts      4.28   mins   Q 8
  3. Simon Damant, Gemma Suggitt, Jim McVitte & Mick Velasco    4.45  mins     Q 7.5
  4. Mark Allery, Catherine Hayburn, Olga Damant & Will Foss        7.16    mins    Q  8


Scythe vs Strimmer challenge

                                Scythe                           Strimmer

Andy Coleman                      1.15  min                                  1.31 min

Ded                                         55  secs                                    1.44 min

5m x 5m Individual sprint competitions



  1. Gemma Suggitt                3.43                6                     First
  2. Karen Froppiti                  3.30               5                     Second (Fast but Crap)
  3. Catherine Hayburn          5.07               6                     Third
  4. Katy Marczeski                 5.39              7.5                  Best new comer
  5. Beth Tilston                       7.56              6.5
  6. Victoria Moulton               8.22              7.5
  7. Olga Damant                    11.56              8                      Best Quality and Veteran


  1. Ded Kalaj                           2.00                9                     First and best Quality
  2. Richard Brown                  1.57                8.5                  Second
  3. George Montague             1.54                8                     Third (Fast but Crap)
  4. Andy Coleman                   2.13                7
  5. Andy Marczeski                2.18                7
  6. Will Foss                             3.41                6
  7. Mark Allery                       3.00                5
  8. Jim McVittae                     4.12                6
  9. Mick Velasco                      4.15                6
  10. Ghisppi Froppiti                4.17                6

English scythe

  1. Chris Lambert                   2.44                5                      First
  2. Chris Riley                         5.39                6                     Second best quality

Cider Competition  (8 different home made ciders)

  1. Tom Raw                           Best by a mile
  2. George Montague
  3. Simon Damant

Spoon carving competition 14 spoons presented

1 Andy Coleman best spoon

Spoon and egg race (plenty of cheating)

  1. Mark Allery                                    First
  2. Catherine Hayburn                     Second
  3. Andy Marczeski                           Third

Full event report

by Wimpole Host – Simon Damant


Jim McVittae and Wimpole estate volunteers set out and mowed the competition squares for the mowing competitions. Simon fetched the beer and collected Andy Window the silver tongued blacksmith (actually he had silver everywhere!) and found him  an anvil which he had forgot to pack.  A marquee and four benders (kindly loaned by Tim Radford) were erected and a bar installed after which all settled in for the night sampling the six beers from the Red Fox brewery. Over the beer it was decided to go for an early start in the morning on Saturday (6am) for the Quarter acre mowing competition.


6am – the constant noise of hammer on blade soon roused those not so keen to surface with ‘wooly heads’ from the evening before. Jim McVittae organised the drawing of straws for field plots and mowing commenced on the dot of 7am.

The grass was stiff and wiry and a sharp edge was needed to ease the labour however an early dew did help for the first hour.  After sometime it was apparent that George was sneaking in front and by half way he was leading, although the mowing was a little erratic. Simon Damant having decided his blade was holding him back took a chance in peening his blade half way through, a short while later so did Andy Coleman. All contestants looked a slight bit weary towards the end and most wondered what on earth gave them the idea to mow a quarter of an acre. After two hours and thirty two minutes George was first to finish hoping his time would be enough to beat Simon Damant.  Unfortunately seeing George complete ahead on time spurred Simon on and in a hurried sprint to the end finished  just 8 minutes later, now knackered but judged to have mown a better ‘short back and sides’.

Next to finish was Richard Brown on his one eighth of an acre in two hours and forty six minutes absolutely exhausted and wondered why the sky had fallen onto his head.

Andy Coleman left a slightly tufty mown hay meadow but finished in a good time of 3 hours and 16 minutes. It was Andy Marczeski who fought on very bravely to the bitter end but finished with a very reasonable cut, lets just say there was not enough light in the day for him to do one acre and he only just made lunch.

The rest of the day was filled with people learning how to mow, make wooden spoons and bashing metal on both small scythe anvils and blacksmith anvils some more expertly then others. Andy Window (most definitely the true expert with a hammer) recreated in his forge some traditional scythe spars for the mowers to use in the wheat harvest later that year. video

The day finished with a BBQ and spit roast of hogget (one of Simons’ young Norfolk Horn sheep sacrificed earlier that week especially for the event). This fed a multitude of people and finished with some excellent local beer from the bar.


A more relaxing morning with no early morning scythe marathons to start the day.  There was still plenty to do – we had to finish off the 25m2 plots by 11am. We had the cider competition and all entries seemed very close. But then there was a late entry, WOW that was something else, sweet bubbly and very drinkable.  Tom was instantly and unanimously declared the winner.

Next came judging of the the spoon carving competition. Contestants had carved all Saturday and into the night by the light of the campfire. After much deliberation from the two judges Graham Damant and Gemma Suggitt, Andy Coleman was declared the winner. It was only then that the second part of the spoon competition was announced : an egg & spoon race using the carved spoons, and as a spoiler, Simon presented spoon carving course tutor Mark Allery with a large goose egg not a chicken egg for the race. Little did Simon know however that Mark had inside information from a spy, and guess what, Mark had carved two spoons – one oversized to carry the goose egg!  The race started, a run of 50 yards to the hay cock and back, loads of cheating which in the end help Mark cross the line in first place without dropping his golden goose egg.

Now the strimmer vs scythe challenge.  Ded and Andy Coleman went head to head in two races each alternately using the scythe and strimmer. It was declared a ded heat(!)

Other rural skills were present and included two blacksmiths, a hurdle maker, a wood carver, a walking stick maker, the estates volunteers making rakes and a number of stalls.

Sunday afternoon was very hot and the grass plots were dry and wiry for the team and individual races.  Four teams of four mowers of mixed ability were organised and all did remarkable well with the first three placings having to be decided on an average quality assessment. There were about 20 competitors for the 5 by 5 metre individual championship races.  There was only a few seconds separating the best times recorded so again placings were determined by judgement of quality.  All competitors exceeded themselves, but none more than Ded who had come along to see what the day was all about.



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