It’s been too wet for some mowing machines to get to work but mowers were out in force yesterday for the West Country scything championships.
Experts including Austrian Christiane Lechner were on hand over the weekend to take workshops to help others become teachers of an art which is gaining more enthusiasts as each year goes by.
Scythes were still widely used until the end of the Second World War, when petrol-driven machinery took over but in the past decade the Austrian scythe, a traditional but light and versatile tool, has arrived in the UK, and scythes are once again being used in public parks, wildlife reserves, some hay meadows and even allotments.
World championships took place in Saxony earlier this year and keen Britons can join specialist holidays making hay with scythes in Transylvania.
Simon Fairlie, Dorset-based founder of the Green Scythe Fair and Championships, which took place at Thorney Lakes, near Langport said: “There is no difficulty finding volunteers to mow large areas of land because most people enjoy using scythes provided they are well taught. It is the job of the professional to instruct them and organise them.”
Joe Wright’s film of Anna Karenina, starring Keira Knightley, due for release later this year, will include a sequence showing a gang of 40 mowers, shot on Salisbury Plain — the largest team in Britain for many a year.