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