Poldark influence helps Wimpole scything festival

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image copyrightPA
image captionActor Aidan Turner caused a stir when his character Ross Poldark took to topless scything

Dozens of people will be whipping out their scythes and ripping off their shirts for a spot of "Poldarking" in Cambridgeshire this weekend.

The annual scything competition takes place on Sunday at the National Trust's Wimpole Hall, where aficionados compete to cut grass with the ancient tool.

Scything has enjoyed a "revival" since actor Aidan Turner tried it in TV series Poldark, a trust spokesman said.

The success of the show led to the phrase Poldarking being coined.

When Turner took his turn scything in the BBC drama, experts criticised his technique.

'Poldark influence'

There was no need to sweat so profusely, and scything "doesn't have to be that hard", they said.

image copyrightHelen Burchell
image captionJudge and scythe champion Simon Damant admits to occasionally scything without his shirt on

"Scything is very good for all the core muscle groups especially the stomach, and has had somewhat of a revival due to the Poldark influence, when experienced scythers commented on the TV show character not using the scythe correctly," the trust spokesman said.

Those who know how to wield a scythe will be turning up for Sunday's show-down at Wimpole Hall from 15:00 BST, while those who lack the know-how can try "have a go" sessions beforehand.

image copyrightGetty/Thinkstock
image captionOld will take on new at this year's festival

This year's competition will pit old against new with the scythe going head-to-head with a strimmer to determine the most effective mowing method.

One of the judges will be Wimpole forester Simon Damant, who earlier this month won the West Country championships in Somerset.

He uses a scythe at Wimpole to help manage the wildflower grassland, cutting small areas of grass usually inaccessible by larger machinery.

How to scythe

image captionRanger Simon Damant uses scythes in areas inaccessible to other equipment
  • The scythe should remain in contact with the ground at all times
  • Rest the blade on the ground and slide it backwards and forwards in a semi-circular action
  • Move your body though the hips to ensure you are slicing rather than chopping the vegetation
  • Go on a course and learn to do it properly and safely

Source: Steve Tomlin, training co-ordinator for Scythe Association of Britain and Ireland

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