This is an article written by the late John Nickerson, who died on February 15th this year. It was scribed with his usual hallmark of dry wit and natural passion for all things long distance walking, following an Anytime Anywhere walk called The Two Bishops Bash, on Saturday December 18th 1993. Rest in peace, dear man, dear friend, and thank you for this wonderful contribution, which I now present as a tribute to you.' 

Tim Glenn

30.05.17

The Two Bishops Bash was an Anytime Anywhere-Linear Request 28 mile walk from Lincoln Cathedral to Southwell Minster, on Saturday December 18th 1993. The blurb in Strider from our leader (Tim Glenn) stated: ‘Catch the 6.30am train from Fiskerton BR Station, Nottinghamshire to Lincoln, then take a taxi to the start point at the cathedral’s main entrance, to begin walking at about 7.30am.’ The idea was to walk to Southwell, having a café stop in Newark, after 20 miles, with a taxi from the finish back to Fiskerton.

I arrived in the pitch dark at 5.45am on the appointed day and saw no sign of a railway station. I tried a road to the left. No! That ended up in a farmyard. I tried a road to the right. No! That ended up at some horse riding stables. Then, as luck would have it, a goods train rattled by, lights came on and there was the station, right in front of me. At 6.25am another car arrived, then one at 6.26am and a further one at 6.29am. Tim turned up just as the train was approaching. Now we were seven.

In Newark, another BBN walker joined us. In Lincoln, we came out of the railway station to look for a taxi, but there was only one there and it already had a pre-booked fare. The man said that he would be back in 15 minutes. At 7.15am four of us left Lincoln Railway Station in that taxi and were dropped off ‘near’ the cathedral, due to a road closure. We waited there for Tim and the other three. After a quarter of an hour Tim came running towards us from the direction of the cathedral. Their taxi had ignored the road closure signs and dropped them off outside the cathedral. We eventually all assembled in one place, with four more joining us. Now we were 12.

We had a group photograph taken at the main door of the cathedral before setting off, with most of us touching the gigantic wooden door for luck, which, as it turned out, we were to need. We then set off on the Two Bishops Bash, but after only a few yards arrived at the real main door, which Tim, somewhat unconvincingly, announced as the other main door. So, we had another group photograph taken, everyone touched the new main door (for luck!) and we set off again, immediately passing Lincoln Castle and a Christmas market and then headed down the famous Steep Hill towards the town centre. We were soon out of the city and looking back at the fine views of Lincoln Cathedral.

We walked at a good rate and after three hours demands were made for a break. Our demands were met, in a church porch. As we enjoyed the break our leader told us that we were going really well and would be in Newark by early afternoon. Soon, we were off again, and the going got tougher – no hills, but mud and ploughed fields. Later, we met a farmer who told us that the reason we could not find the way out of his field was because there was no right of way across it and he knew that for a fact, after owning it for over 55 years. Our leader, initially addressing the farmer as ‘Squire,’ had not exactly helped our cause. Nevertheless, Tim persisted, and showed him the map and after a heated debate the farmer conceded there might actually be a path, but he was not sure where and suggested that we all went across the adjacent field instead – this was heavily ploughed! I swear that dreadful field was a mile across. However, in a bid to help us, our leader said that lunch was at the church we could see in the far distance, with the fine spire. The problem was that it never got any nearer.

Eventually, at 1.30pm, we got to Tim’s church. During lunch, our leader informed us that it was about four or five miles to Newark. This meant that we had done 15 or 16 miles in six hours, which wasn’t too bad. We set off after the lunch stop, but very soon our leader’s navigational skills were tested beyond capacity – again! The next skill our resilient leader needed was diplomacy, when we were accosted by a very irate man who was complaining that we were too big a group of people to use the path running next to his garden. At 3.30pm our leader told us it was now only four or five miles to Newark. Struck by a déjà vu and feeling concerned about the news our entire group gathered around Tim’s map, which closely resembled a scene from an episode of Dad’s Army. After lively discussion it was declared by everyone that it was indeed closer to five miles rather than four to Newark by the intended route and that we had taken nothing off our journey since lunch, if the original figure was to be believed, which by now it wasn’t. Four of the group decided to leave us here and go by road to Newark to catch a train back to Fiskerton. Now we were eight.

Unsurprisingly, more ploughed fields followed, but Newark did actually exist and we arrived at precisely 5.15pm. Here, at the beginning of a much needed refreshment stop, one more group member informed Tim that he had decided to head off for Newark station to catch a train back to Fiskerton. Now we were seven.

As we approached Newark Railway Station, by the definitive route, three more announced an early departure and went off to catch a train back to Lincoln. Now we were four.

Coming across a fish and chip shop on the outskirts of Newark, no one could resist the tempting aroma coming under its door and so we all filled up ready for the last seven miles, as our leader informed us, although no one believed him. We left Newark at about 6pm, crossed the bypass and promptly got lost. Tim told us that the bypass was not on his map and no one argued. However, we managed to locate the ‘old’ road and were soon speeding along again. Tim enthusiastically announced that we would be in Southwell for 8pm, but this was greeted with a muffled, ‘if we’re lucky’ from the three of us still walking with him. We got to Southwell Minster at 8.45pm, which Tim seemed quite pleased about. We all touched the main door, as we had at the start, although not for luck this time, just relief. As we did so, the door opened wide and we were invited in for a Christmas carol service that had already begun – late for that as well!

Two of our remaining group were to be met by their wives, with a car, so we had a photograph taken outside the main door of Southwell Minster and then they left. Now we were two.

Tim and I walked around town trying to find a phone box. Tim had a number for the only local taxi firm - I wondered how long it would take us to walk to Fiskerton! However, we found a phone box and Tim dialled the number, but nothing happened, with the money he had just put in falling into the metal tray underneath. I thought once more about how far it might be to Fiskerton, whilst Tim tried again – success! The taxi, we were told, would be with us in two minutes and it was. We arrived back at Fiskerton Railway Station at 9.30pm from where I had over 100 miles to drive home, but we had completed The Two Bishops Bash and all seemed well.

It had taken 15 hours, including travel. Tim now thought the distance to be about 34 miles, but really it was the ploughed fields, mud and navigation difficulties at times that had made our journey seem longer than it actually was. Lincolnshire walking is hard work in winter, but I really did enjoy the experience and Tim is always good to walk with. As I drove away from Fiskerton I thought to myself that in the future we would laugh about all this. Now we were both one.

As a postscript, the next time I bumped into Tim I was informed that he had left his torch on some grass in a village a few miles from the finish of our walk, but had driven back afterwards and luckily managed to find it. However, luck then deserted him as he ran out of fuel on the way home, but after knocking on someone’s door they drove him to the nearest petrol station and lent him a gallon can. Tim thought I might be surprised by his news - Tim’s news came as no surprise whatsoever to me!

John Nickerson – LDWA BBN

21.12.93