In 2017, we’ll explore the winding streets of Oxford with its dreaming spires, hike the breathtaking coasts of Cornwall, and ascend to the highlands of Scotland. Wherever we go we’ll be exploring Inklings literary connections.
While our trips usually attract young adults, college students, and high school students, we invite and welcome travelers of all ages to take part in the journey. All that’s required are flexibility, imagination, and a love of adventure!
This year’s trip is from June 4th to June 19th (2017), a full two weeks and day in length. If you want to extend your time in Europe so that you can visit other countries, it is possible to arrive early or leave late. Flights are flexible.
2017 Trip is Full
That's the bad news. The good news is we are already getting excited about future trips. There is information below about how to contact us if you are interested. Travelers already signed up for the 2017 trip can click on the arrow to the right for resources and information.
Our Motto: ``We are travelers, not tourists.``
Getting Off the Beaten Path0%
Eating our Seven Daily Hobbit Meals0%
Touring Traditional London Landmarks0%
Immersion in British Culture0%
Investigating Tolkien, Lewis, Rowling, and other British Authors0%
Making Lifelong Friends0%
``The Road Goes Ever On and On``
Footage of the 2016 Trip
Don't Just Take Our Word For It
This trip was the best experience of my life. Worth every penny. Not only did I learn a lot about some of my favorite authors, I got to spend a lot of time with great friends, wandering all over Europe. I'd definitely recommend it to anyone and everyone.
``An excellent experience for anyone who loves Tolkien, Lewis, traveling, England, or adventure! I saw so much and loved all of it.``
``Highly recommend this trip for anyone longing to see the best of what the UK has to offer. The destinations and the stories you learn along the way are sure to make this a trip you won't forget.``
``Truly a perspective broadening time spent with both new and old friends in the land of some of my ancestors and, more recently, that of two of the English speaking world's greatest literary minds.``
We’ve all heard of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, whose works, The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia, continue to capture the hearts and imaginations of millions around the world. But few of us know the story of the Inklings, the literary group frequented by Lewis, Tolkien, and other great fantasy writers and apologists of the twentieth century.
Inklings Abroad seeks to tell that story. We’ll take you to Oxford, England, the “city of dreaming spires” and the gateway to so many fantasy worlds. You’ll see the Kilns, home of C.S. Lewis, raise a glass at the Bird and Baby, where in their time the Inklings swapped their world-changing stories with each other before sharing them with the world. We’ll trek out to Cornwall on the southwestern tip of England. There we’ll see the breathtaking Tintagel, the legendary birthplace of King Arthur, as well as St. Michael’s Mount, a castle in the midst of the sea.
In 2017, travelers will also have the opportunity to travel to Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands. We’ll visit the cafe where J.K. Rowling first had the idea for Harry Potter, ride the train that inspired the Hogwarts Express, and even explore some George MacDonald connections.
For lovers of fantasy and myth, this is the adventure of a lifetime.
Though typically built for youth, college students, and young adults, our trip are open for anyone to participate. We sometimes have married couples, parents with children, and senior adults join us for Inklings Abroad.
We do not allow children younger than 13 to come on our trips without a parent or guardian except under special circumstances. Students 13-17 are welcome to travel with us even without a guardian, but will be more closely chaperoned by our leaders.
Lodging, in-country transportation, breakfast and most activities 1836 US $
Estimated Cost of Airline Tickets 1000 US $
Average Food Costs 350 US $
As far as international trips go, Inklings Abroad is one of the most cost-efficient options available. We keep costs low by staying in hostels, rather than hotels, as well as with friends in the Nailsea area, who graciously host us in their homes.
The $1836 figure which you pay us, includes your lodging, your in-country transportation, your daily breakfast, and most of your in-country activities. All of the above will be arranged for you by our leaders.
Travelers are responsible for purchasing their own international airline tickets, although most years we are able to offer travelers a good deal on a group ticket purchased through our travel agent. If you purchase one of these tickets, or you are diligent in shopping for your own, you should be able to find a flight for around $1000.
How much you spend on meals, souvenirs, and extra activities is up to you. Some travelers have done it on $200 or less, while others have spent as much as $500. However, our estimate of $350 is usually enough to eat well while staying frugal.
A $500 deposit is required to claim your spot. We require that you pay the remaining $1336 at the very least by the first day of the trip.
June 14th is our Day-Trip Day.
On this day the leaders will be splitting up to take smaller groups to London, Stratford, and the Cotswolds. Since the costs of these day-trips always vary (for instance, travelers may want to pay to ride the London Eye or see a play), they are not included in your base trip costs. Travelers can also stay in Oxford that day, where plenty of free options exist.
We keep trip costs down dramatically by staying in hostels, rather than hotels. There are certainly unsafe, seedy hostels out there, but these are not the ones we stay at.
Most of the hostels we frequent are old favorites, ones that we’ve enjoyed our stay at over and over again. We’ve never had any problems with cleanliness, crime, or safety at any of the hostels hosting us this year. All of them will have a full English breakfast included.
Check out this stunning view from Coverack YHA. Some of the best hostels are in places where you can’t even find a hotel.
Good question. On one hand, there will be a lot of walking. Some of the coolest things you’ll see on this trip are things that only your legs can carry you to. This is how we steer clear of the crowds and stay off the beaten path. There are also long periods of remaining on one’s feet, such as waiting in airports or in customs, navigating through various train stations, and exploring vast locations like St. Michael’s Mount and Tintagel.
On the other hand, most running and serious hiking is, as we like to call it, “challenge by choice.” Expect once or twice to have to sprint with your luggage to catch up with whatever train is trying to leave our group behind, but other than that, you should be fine. In 2014, a woman completed the entire trip on her cane and walker. Granted, she was probably the most epic traveler we have ever had, but still, she gives the rest of us hope.
For those who savor the physical exercise, you won’t be disappointed. Every day, there will be opportunities to challenge yourself, such as hiking the Cornish coast, climbing a Scottish mountain, diving into the frigid waters of the channel, or playing some intense English football during the evenings.
Optional group discussions are held each evening. They are usually facilitated by Dr. David Conley, who wrote his dissertation on Tolkien’s theology of creativity.
The first 10-15 minutes of each meeting involve a short lecture from Dr. Conley regarding one aspect of Tolkien myth-making approach. The titles of these talks are Fantasy, Recovery, Escape, and Consolation and can be researched ahead of time by reading Tolkien’s essay On Fairy Stories.
After the talks, there is a time for open discussion. The topics of these discussions tend to vary based on the interest of the group. We can go into greater depth regarding the night’s lecture, discuss the places we’ve seen, learn more about the lives of the Inklings, and of course occasionally nerd out over our favorite parts of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.This time is also used to finalize the agenda for the next day.
During the day, shorter talks are sometimes held at the sites we visit in order to more fully appreciate their historical or mythical significance. Occasionally we’ll read from the works of Inklings in important places, such as our readings from The Last Battle at Lewis’ grave or Mythopoeia at Addison’s Walk.
Inklings Abroad is not a project of any specific church or denomination, nor are our trips designed to explicitly promote the doctrines of any church or denomination.
It is indeed true that most of the original Inklings identified with one or more branches of Christianity. C.S. Lewis was a devout Anglican, and has since become a household name in American evangelical circles due to his skill as an apologist. J.R.R. Tolkien described his Lord of the Rings as “a fundamentally Catholic work”, and the books and life of Charles Williams are awash in Christian mysticism.
Certainly then, Christianity will be a common theme of our group discussions. Tolkien’s theology of creativity, as outlined in his essay On Fairy Stories, will be discussed in detail, as will the Christian meanings and symbolism behind The Chronicles of Narnia and Leaf by Niggle.
However, engagement in these discussions is always optional. We want all travelers to feel like they can enjoy the journey without the need to conform to religion in general or to Christianity in particular. This was, in fact, one of the traits that made the original Inklings so successful as writers: their ability to infuse their works with beauty and truth while remaining far from what we would call “preachy”.
Also of note, travelers will have two opportunities to attend a religious service. These are of course entirely optional and are outlined below:
While in Oxford, travelers may attend a candlelit Evensong service at Magdalen College. This is an unforgettable experience, featuring a boys-choir, candlelight and the historical musical traditions of the Church of England.
For our weekend in Nailsea, we will be hosted by families who likely attend the same village church. Travelers may, if they wish, attend Sunday service, followed by a casual teatime.
Our organization is called the Inklings of Clemson, and our trips are called Inklings Abroad. The purpose of these trips is to “Pursue Creativity Through Community”. We want to equip travelers with the tools to encounter beauty and truth through beautiful places, friendships, and works of creativity.
We have been conducting these trips for over 15 years, mostly to the same set of favorite places in the U.K, so you can trust that we’ll get you “there and back again” in one piece. Our leadership team is composed of a small group of friends who enjoy traveling together. You can learn more about each of us by clicking on our portraits below.
We will keep accepting travelers until the trip fills up. We have currently booked at accommodations for a group size of 21, although we may be able to stretch this if there is significant interest after we reach that cap.
The best way to guarantee yourself a spot is to mail in a $500 deposit by November 1, 2016. Checks should be written out to:
The Inklings of Clemson
205 Riverbirch Drive
Clemson, SC. 29631
Meet our Team
All of our leaders have a passion for travel, but we also consider ourselves to be Inklings: lovers of creativity, myth, and beauty.
Dr. David Conley and Michelle Conley
Matthew and Caroline Hall
Dr. Betsy Weinrich
All of our trips include the Inklings essentials (Oxford & Cornwall), but we also make each trip unique by visiting a few different locations each year.
Fill out the below form or email one of our leaders if you are interested in the trip. You can reach David Conley at(email@example.com).
Inklings Abroad is a project of the Inklings of Clemson