Lancashire's Coronation Meadows at Bell Sykes Farm, Slaidburn played host to a scythe training course in July. Steve Tomlin was the tutor, for the second year running, travelling down from his base in Cumbria. All eight places on the course were filled, and could have been filled over again, demand for the course was so high. The course ran over two days, covering all aspects of setting up the blade and snath (wooden handle), learning the mowing motion, practicing in the meadow, sharpening and looking after the blade.
The course participants were a varied lot, but in the main wanted to learn to mow because they had a small piece of grassland at home which they were keen to manage in a traditional way and were even keener not to have to use a strimmer. Among the pupils was 19 yr old Krishen Chauhan, an environmental management student from UCLAN in Preston. Krishen is blind and wants to build his skills towards a career in habitat management. With a helper on hand and a specially adapted sharpening stone in his belt, Krishen mowed as part of the team, adding "scything is a greener way of cutting grass, and it might even be a passport for me in the future."
The two day course also played host to artist Olivia Keith, who is working on a project capturing the relationship of people working within the landscape of the Forest of Bowland. Over the two days Olivia produced two large charcoal and pastel sketches on canvas, which captured the movements of the mowers perfectly.
Following on from the course, several of the participants have gone on to mow at home, and have also been part of the mowing team which are managing small grasslands which are suffering from a lack of cutting management as part of the Forest of Bowland's Networks for Nectar project.
- Sarah Robinson, Bowland Hay Time and Networks for Nectar project officer