William Nicholl, Director at Lycetts


William Nicholl is a Director at Lycetts, which has nearly 60 years’ experience of looking after the insurance needs of people who live and work in the country.

Head of Lycetts Rural team, he specialises in advising landowners, farmers and private clients nationwide as well as running the Rural team from the head office in Newcastle.

What’s the best – and worst – game dish you’ve ever eaten?

Game stew can be a shocker! I often think that occasionally it is deemed sensible to empty or spring clean the deep freeze. This can sometimes result in all that game that has been lurking in the bottom being turned into a thoroughly uninspiring and dangerous game stew, provenance unknown. The best; well that’s over to Mrs Nicholl…

Is there any game you don’t – or wouldn’t – eat?

I don’t eat woodcock. I have always been fascinated by them as a bird, and ever since a very tired woodcock landed on the pitch at an evening game at St James Park (Newcastle v Reading, 08.12.08) I have not shot one. The game was stopped after 52,000 Geordies booed until the referee blew up. Most of the players and referee were horrified by the frightening looking bird but luckily Obafemi Martins our Nigerian striker was brave enough to pick it up and it was released in Leazes Park behind the ground.

What, different to ‘normal’ accommodation, distinguishes a great game pub or hotel?

The CB Inn and Punchbowl in Wensleydale are wonderful places to stay. They are kitted out for shooting and from August to September are regularly filled with teams of guns shooting locally. Nothing is too much trouble, guns can be catered for, wet clothes dried, the food and drink delicious and there are endless tall tales of left and rights, tall birds, wiping picker upper eyes etc. often till the early hours. Also of key importance is that one’s tired (but nevertheless magnificent) canine supporters are allowed upstairs, which is really important for a hostelry aimed at Sportsmen!

Name the best shooting property you’ve stayed in, and why.

Linhope Lodge – stunning location, relaxed company, great team and a seriously good dinner followed by an equally good breakfast. Richard Sim cooks there and much of the food is game shot on the Estate. He also rocks up for lunch, which is taken outside looking up at the famous basin (a very savage drive) among their converted railway carriages around burning braziers and Richard’s famous BBQ trailer.

Tell us about your most memorable – not necessarily the best – day’s shooting.

I had a wonderful day at the pigeons with Frank Speir when we were both living in the Cotswolds. We set up a hide and magnet in the morning and had a thoroughly satisfactory morning shooting the “pig” before heading to the Kings Head in Bledington, where we successfully bartered for a free lunch with our host Archie Orr-Ewing in return for our sack of pigeons. We then headed off to another location in the afternoon, filled our sack again and then negotiated a free supper again in return for our sack at the Coach and Horses, sadly now no longer open.

You are given a day’s shooting absolutely anywhere in the world, all expenses paid for you and seven guests. Where would you choose, with whom, and what would you eat and drink for lunch and dinner?

I have been very spoilt and shot driven grouse a number of times at Gunnerside, which has to be the holy grail. Simply to stand in a butt in such wonderful country is a treat, let alone the grouse, great craiq, and the very well-oiled machine of keepers, beaters, pickers up, flankers, loaders… Lunch is superb and provided by the Estate in one of the various lunch huts spread over the 48,000 acres. The day would of course be made up of a team of friends and family, and of course lots of dogs!