The Scottish Scything Festival 2021 ON July 24th we had a blistering hot day at Blackhaugh farm for this years festival, over 200 people came along! By 9.30 most of the competition squares had been prepared, the signs were all in place, structures up and the chairs and strawbales were ready for play and use. Food vans were up to heat and the five presenters were raring to go. There was still a fair amount of scything to be done in the main area which was gradually mown during the morning by anyone up for it. Monica Griesbaum gave a fascinating talk about tea growing in Scotland, followed by an inspiring and much applauded talk from Fiona Guest about meadows. Will Sutherland demonstrated and promoted the A-frame scythe which he makes and then fits with modern blades and Charlie Quinnell showed what the Scandanavian scythe is capable of as well as feeding us lots of other insights into scything and hay making in Scotland. Andi Rickard completed the quintet of talks by showing us her peening techniques both freehand and with jig. Out in the field John Grundy allowed a plethora of novices the chance to try scything and his patience and calming attitude were appreciated by all. There was also a lot of camaraderie with experts helping novices set up their scythes and impromptu peening sessions and honing sessions going on. Rob Brodie took 30 entrants through the competition heats and narrowed these down to the eight finalists who later competed for the champions Quaich. Up the slope at the top of the farm was a well attended market garden tour from Johnny Agnew. Lou and Frank who also work on the Farm coordinated the scything of a 30m x 30m square of green manure. We all admired what a fruitful and abundant landscape that is being created on the farm. The competition finals started at 3pm and after some deliberation from the 3 judges it was announced that the Scottish Champion for 2021 is Andi Rickard. A well deserved winner and we hope she will come back to defend her crown next time. The sward mown over the weekend was collected up by Andrew Lear and will be put to good use feeding various animals on the farm this winter. The Scythe shop sold out which has to be a good thing and the cider was flowing earlier than usual too – maybe not quite such a good thing?! Competition Results The size of square mowed was 5metre x 5metre. The Gairloch Gathering scoring method was used to create one overall winner. Time is converted to seconds. Points is out of 20, 1 being the best 20 the worst. The points are then multiplied by 10 and added to the time giving a total score. The lowest points wins. Please note Charlie Quinnell was using his home made Scandanavian style snath, Angus Simpson was using an old A-frame scythe with original hardened steel blade and Mario Pager was using a turk scythe.
Andi Rickard - 3.26(202secs) 4x10 (40) total - 242 Charlie Quinnell - 3.44(224secs) 5x10 (50) total - 274 John Pears - 3.46(226secs) 15x10 (150) total - 376 Mario Pager - 6.12(372secs) 11x10 (110) total - 482 Angus Simpson = 6.50(410secs) 12x10 (120) total - 530 Ewan Thain - 8.12(492secs) 9x10 (90) total - 582 Adam Salter - 7.31(451secs) 14x10 (140) total - 591 John Grundy - 12.18(738secs) 7x10 (70) total - 808
Draft Order of the Day - Marquee and area beside marquee 10.30 till 11 - tea talk with Monica Griesbaum AND A-frame scythes talk and demo with Will Sutherland 11.15 till 11.45 - peening demo with Andi Rickard AND meadow talk with Fiona Guest 12 till 12.30 - Scottish and Scandanavian scything talk and demo with Charlie Quinnel AND tea talk with Monica Griesbaum 12.45 till 1.15 - peening demo with Andi Rickard AND meadow talk with Fiona Guest 1.30 till 2 - A-frame scythes talk and demo with Will Sutherland AND Scottish and Scandanavian scything talk and demo with Charlie Quinnel Scythe Area 10.30 till 11 - taster session with John Grundy 11 till 12 - competition heats with Rob Brodie 12 till 1ish - green manure mowing session with Frank and Lou 1 till 1.30 - taster session with John Grundy 1.30 till 2.30 - competition heats with Rob Brodie 1.30 till 2.30 – tour of Taybank Growers cooperative market garden with Johnny Agnew 3 till close - competition finals and downtime Scythe Shop Open – 10 till 11, 1 till 2, 4 till 5.
Latest News - A line up to get your scythes singing!
The reigning UK scything champion Andi Rickard will be giving a peening demonstration as well as being around in the field to answer queries and help with mowing techniques.
John Grundy - expert scyther from the North of England will also be about to help folk hone their skills and run a beginners session.
Charlie Quinnell is back giving a talk and demonstrating amongst other things scandanavian scythes.
Will Sutherland will be talking about his 60 years of experience with the Northumbrian/Scottish A frame style of scythe which he still makes and uses to this day.
Fiona Guest of Scotia seeds is going to talk on Meadow creation and management and will be happy to answer meadow related questions.
Monica Griesbaum of Windy Hollow Farm Organic Teas will be giving a talk on organic tea growing and making in colder climates.
All the above will happen alongside a competition, sales from both Scythe Cymru and The Scythe Shop, food and drink, a practice area and scythes to borrow on the day. Calling all Scythers! The Scottish Scything Club for the third year runninginvite you to the largest scything event in Scotland, to be held at Blackhaugh Farm on Saturday 24th July, 2021 We are once again reaching out to every scyther and scythe enthusiast across Scotland to come together for the Festival - to chat, mow, share ideas, compete and most of all to have loads of fun. We are asking everyone to book their tickets in advance to avoid delays on the day. We wont be able to let anyone in on the day without a previously booked ticket.
What’s on offer? - A practice meadow to hone your skills - Fun taster sessions for novices - A scything competition - A children’s area with lots of straw - Scythes and related kit for sale - A Burger van with gluten free and vegan options - Drinks, cakes and salads - Presentations and talks - Membership of the Scottish Scything Club - Camping option for Friday and Saturday nights with campfire
What to bring?The Festival takes place on a working farm so you are advised to wear outdoor clothing and footwear. Please bring your own scythe but most importantly (whether you are a novice, an old hand or voyeur) bring with you a desire to celebrate the scythe. A cup, plate and seat will also be helpful and if you are staying over then you will need to bring all your food and alcohol.
Fancy a Sleepover? There are camping and campervan spaces available on the Friday and Saturday nights on a first come first served basis. We will have a fire to sit round, be sociable, play music and chill out. Please bring any food or drink that you want for the duration. The facilities are basic - just a tap and a couple of compost toilets. When booking your spot please remember to tell us if you plan to stay on just Saturday or just Friday or both AnD if you will have a tent or van or other?
How to book? To buy tickets and join the club click on the 'buy tickets here' link above - For more information about the Scottish Scything Club, buying tickets, the day and evening’s activities or to offer some of your time to help out then please email Rob Brodie email@example.com.
We tried three times to run the event but each time something got in the way. This has not stopped many scythers across Scotland from getting out and mowing the sward, individuals, community groups, families, novices, experts alike. We continue to enjoy the skill on rough hill land, market gardens, orchards, show gardens, pathways and road verges. Lets keep up the amazing work and carry on looking forwards. Thanks to all and remember - Scythe Safe and Stay Sharp!
Round up of 2019 Festival
The last weekend of July 2019 saw the first ever Scottish Scything Festival take place at Blackhaugh Community Farm in Perthshire. Guests started to arrive on Friday afternoon and got stuck into some last minute sign painting and marking out of areas, there was a fire that evening with lots of scything chat and beer and cider sampling. On Saturday braving an ominous forecast and in some cases driving through torrential downpours to get there, 120 people, including 20 or so children gathered for a day of talks, demonstrations, taster sessions, scythe sales and of course a scything competition. The day itself was dry and by the afternoon the weather was glorious, with hot sun shining on bucolic scenes of children playing and folk chatting leaning on scythes. Talks on ‘Scything in Transylvania’, ‘Scandanavian scything’, ‘Peening’ and 'Making hay in Europe' were all well attended and led to much interesting debate, while beginners and experienced scythers alike took the chance to try out new blades, improve their skills and find out how to bring old scythes back into action with the help of various volunteer experts and enthusiasts. Among the scythes present were Swiss, Norwegian, Scottish, Austrian, Italian, and Bulgarian models. The small shop selling scythes and accessories almost sold out and the wild game/vegan burger van had a sell out day too. The afternoon’s competition had 29 entrants and through lodged and tough sward we were treated to some fine displays of speed and technique with the overall winner John Pears being presented the Scottish Scything Champions wooden quaich (see below for scores). The traditional scythe versus strimmer competition formed the climax of the afternoon when it was proved once more that the scythe is faster and does a better job than the strimmer. Another bigger and livlier fire formed the centre of things on Saturday evening with Gaelic and English songs, some scrumptious foraged food and more sampling of soft and alcoholic drinks. Such a lovely weekend filled with a real buzz of enthusiasm and excitement for all things scythe related – everyone is now looking forward to next years event which is planned for the same place and same time.
Competition Results Mowing a 5m X 5m square. Using the Gairloch Gathering scoring method – time in seconds plus quality score (best 1, worst 20, multiplied by ten) equals final score. The lowest points win. 1st John Pears – 4.13(253secs) 8 x 10 (80) total points – 333 2nd Jim Mcvittie – 4.43(283secs) 6 x 10 (60) total points – 343 3rd Rudenko Velinov – 5.48(348secs) 3 x 10 (30) total points – 378 4th Richard Wilson – 4.05(245secs) 17 x 10 (170) total points - 415