Scything course

2018 course date to be announced
The course runs from 10am - 5pm on Saturday and 9.30am - 5pm on Sunday
(with an optional 7am start for the enthusiastic) in Stanmer Park, Brighton.

Learn how to cut grass and weeds without the need of a noisy fossil fuel burning lawnmower or strimmer.

(Can't make these dates? Click here if you would like us to email you when future courses are scheduled.)

The course covers everything you need to know on how to use and maintain a scythe, leaving you with the skills and knowledge needed to mow anything from a small lawn to a meadow and even brambles. Cereals, straw and traditional hay making will also be covered. Plenty of time will be allocated to the sharpening and profiling of the blade, and lots of hands-on guidance from the tutor will enable you to leave as a competent scytheperson.

What will the Scything course cover?

The course will look into the history and theory of scything and how it can be applied to a variety of settings such as lawns, fields, meadows, allotments, brambles, etc. The majority of the course will be focused on providing the participants with practical skills through hands-on experience of mowing grass, weeds and brambles. Meadow management and hay making will also be discussed and demonstrated. The number of course participants is limited, so you will benefit from a lot of individual guidance from the tutor.

Selecting and setting up the scythe and snath (handle) will be covered. You have the option of ordering your own scythe to be available on the day of the course; see below for details. Maintaining and especially sharpening the blade will be an important part of the course, and you will learn the art of 'peening' (profiling the blade).

Who is the Scything course for?

The course will be of interest to anyone with vegetation to cut, including gardeners, allotment holders and horticulturists. No prior knowledge of scything is needed. This course is open to anyone aged 16 or over.

Scything is a little less strenuous than one might expect, but please be aware that much of the work does involve twisting and moving of the back.

You must be willing to spend most of the duration of the course out of doors, whatever the weather. Most of the theoretical parts of the course will be held under cover.

Learning methods and outcomes

A theory session will begin the course, followed by the practicalities of setting up and preparing the scythe, before some practical demonstrations. You will also be provided with a 24-page A4 information pack called "Notes on the Use of the Austrian Scythe" that will reinforce and cover all the theory and techniques covered. Course participants who complete the entire course will receive a certificate, which will be sent via email after the course.

However, the majority of the course will be devoted to practical hands-on experience with guidance from the tutor.

By the end of the course, participants will have the practical skills and techniques necessary to mow lawns, fields, meadows, allotments, brambles, etc. There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions throughout the course.

What does the Scything course lead on to?

This short specialist course is not accredited but should provide participants with the skills needed to begin using a scythe in a home or professional setting.

Course tutors

Tuition will be provided by Simon Fairlie, a very experienced scythesman who has been teaching the subject for many years. He is passionate about the reintroduction of the art of scything in the British Isles, has an extensive knowledge of the subject and imports scythes from the continent. See

Stephan Gehrels will be assisting Simon. Stephan runs school environmental projects in Brighton and has experience of managing orchards and growing plots using a scythe.


Stanmer Park (near University of Sussex)
South East England

Get directions to Stanmer Park.

If you intend to book accommodation, please check availability before booking a place, as accommodation in Brighton can be hard to find, especially over the summer months.

Get details on local accommodation and Brighton Permaculture Trust supporters who can provide accommodation in their homes.

Buying a scythe for the course

We recommend you bring your own scythe, if you have one. You also have the option of buying your own for the day of the course. (If you do not have one and wish to purchase one, scythes will be available to borrow on the day.)

You can order your own scythe from the tutor's shop. This will be brought along for you on the day of the course. You will save yourself the postage costs (around £22 for a complete set) and will gain the tutor's expertise in setting it up on the day. This is a limited offer that will be available on a first come, first served basis, as he will be travelling by train.

The scythes on offer are the Austrian make Schröckenfux. Made since 1540, these are hand-forged blades that are recognised around the world as being of the highest quality.

View The Scythe Shop product list.
View The Scythe Shop price list.
To order a scythe, please order here and indicate next to postage 'for Brighton course'.

A complete set, which includes a snath (adjustable handle), a blade (of your choice), sharpening stones and a peening jig, will cost you £136.

Recommended reading

In addition to the booklet provided, this book is recommended:

The Scythe Book by David Tresemer


Fees include tuition, refreshments, handouts and information sheets.

  • £260 - Sponsored/organisation rate
  • £260 - Individual income more than 25k/yr
  • £215 - Individual income 18-25k/yr
  • £170 - Individual income less than 18k/yr
  • £125 - Individual, concessionary rate (check eligibility)

We endeavour to make our courses and events affordable to all. Unfortunately, we do not receive any external funding for most of these and rely on large amounts of voluntary input.

See the cancellations and refunds policy.

Booking the Scything course

Booking is essential, as most of our courses/events are fully booked weeks in advance. However, if places are still available, then bookings can be made until midday the day before the course/event. A place is not secured until we have received the requested payment.

Please do not book unless you are able to pay for your place.

Paying for your place

Please read this section carefully.

When you complete the booking process, you will receive a confirmation email from us. If you haven't received that email within the next few hours, please contact us immediately, as this email contains vital information regarding your booking.

You can pay when you book your place using a credit/debit card or PayPal, or you can tick the 'Pay later' box (in the Event Fee section), which gives you the option to pay by BACS or send us a cheque after you have booked. If you choose to pay later, you will have 7 days to pay for your place. Bookings that remain unpaid on our system for longer than that will expire. You will receive notification of this expiration by email. If you then decide you want to come, you will need to contact us to see if there is a still a place available for you.

If you are booking within two weeks of the course, or the course is nearly full, you will not have the option to pay later. Instead, you will need to pay immediately at the point of booking using a credit card or PayPal.

Be certain that you understand ALL the information on this page, then:

Book the 19-10 August 2017 course

  • Mike
    "An excellent course. Covered all aspects of scything. Plenty of opportunity to put the training into practice & ask questions."

    Mike Robinson

  • Fiona
    "[The course] was friendly yet professional, so everyone quickly relaxed and felt at ease. I think Brighton Permaculture Trust is doing fantastic work."

    Fiona Ashley

  • Susanna
    "[I liked] the fact that Simon Fairlie was so knowledgeable and experienced, yet tailored his information to the ability of novices to grasp the basics - at the same time he was able to take the more experienced and build on what they could already do."

    Susanna Clymo

  • Chantal
    "Everything was relevant. To see the videos at the end was fun, inspiring and encouraging (especially seeing young people and young women being so efficient at scything)."

    Chantal Chopin

  • Andrew
    "Simon is a very good teacher, good to have additional info from Steph and Beth. Good to have some time to practice scything in the morning and peening in the afternoon."


  • Sue
    "It was so well presented. Very enjoyable and afterwards (although much in need of more practice) I felt quite confident."

    Sue Paskins

  • Theresa
    "Simon is clearly very knowledgable and passionate about scything and his down-to-earth manner encouraged me to just give honing, peening and scything a go without fear of getting it wrong."

    Theresa Neumeier

  • Ryan
    "The tuition was great, and the support from the permaculture volunteers was excellent."

    Ryan Nelson

  • Darren
    "The course was great - lots of practical work plus lots of practice with the scythe."

    Darren Brock