Inklings Abroad 2018
This year we are taking two trips over 3 weeks. Here's the scoop.
Week 1: Cornwall and Bath
We’ll hike the breathtaking coasts of Cornwall, exploring locations that inspired Tolkien’s writings about the sea. Among them are the island fortress of St. Michael’s Mount, the legendary birthplace of King Arthur (Tintagel), and more. We’ll finish the week in Bath, home of the Jane Austen museum and the Roman ruins.
Week 2: Oxford
Both trips will meet together in Oxford for our core Inklings week. We’ll explore the city of the dreaming spires, visit C.S. Lewis’s home, raise a pint in the Bird and Baby, and discuss the lives of the Inklings in depth. There will also be several optional day-trips. such as to London, Stratford and the Cotswolds.
Week 3: France & Switzerland
Using a chateau as a base, we’ll visit the World War I battlefields where Lewis and Tolkien fought, and learn about the fallen comrades who inspired them. Then we’ll take a train up into the Alps and see the landscapes that gave Tolkien the idea for Rivendell. Our trip will conclude by the quiet shores of lake Geneva.
Inklings Abroad (Week 1 and 2, includes Cornwall & Oxford): $1,875
Inklings Continental (Week 2 and 3, includes Oxford & France/Switzerland): $2,275
Inklings Everything (Week 1, 2 and 3): $2,675
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.
Emily Casuccio2016 Traveler
``An excellent experience for anyone who loves Tolkien, Lewis, traveling, England, or adventure! I saw so much and loved all of it.``
Kaitlyn Beck2016 Traveler
``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.``
Erika Kimmich2016 Traveler
``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.``
David Hyde-Volpe2016 Traveler
You've got questions? Here's the fine print.
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.
Here is an early draft of the 2018 itinerary. At this point, it could still change, but this should give you an idea of the trip’s pace and timeline.
Fri June 1: Flights overseas (On planes)
Sat June 2: Travel day from London down into Cornwall, mostly be train. (Coverack YHA)
Sun June 3: Free day in the seaside town of Coverack. Optional watersport possibilities. Scenic hikes to neighboring towns. (Coverack YHA)
Mon June 4: Day trip to Tintagel, legendary birthplace of King Arthur. There are beautiful views of old ruins and the sea. (Coverack YHA)
Tue June 5: Day trip to St. Michaels Mount, an island fortress in the middle of the sea that is only accessible at low tide. During high tide we can go out on fishing boats. (Coverack YHA)
Wed June 6: Day trip to St. Ives, which has plenty of food, culture, and watersports. (Coverack YHA)
Thu June 7: Day trip to Kynance Cove, which has some of the best views of the entire trip. (Lizard YHA)
Fri June 8: Travel day out of the Cornwall area and up to the town of Nailsea, where we will probably stay in host homes in the area. (Nailsea)
Sat June 9: Soccer with our friends in Nailsea. Day trip to Bath, where there are numerous possibilities. These include the Roman Baths, the Jane Austen Museum, and much more (Nailsea)
Sun June 10: Optional worship/Sunday lunch in Nailsea; train ride to Oxford. (Oxford YHA)
Mon June 11: Explore several of the Oxford colleges connected to the Inklings. Visit Bird and Baby. Walk along the River Thames to the Trout for dinner. (Oxford YHA)
Tue June 12: Visit C.S. Lewis’ home, the Kilns, as well as his grave and church. Later in the day, we’ll visit Magdalen College, where Lewis taught, Addison’s Walk, where he became a Christ follower. In the evening there will be an opportunity to attend an Evensong (Oxford YHA).
Wed June 13: Oxford day trips to Cotswolds or Stratford. The Cotswolds day-trip would involve climbing Broadway Tower and eating and shopping in country villages. The Stratford day-trip would involve seeing a Shakespeare play in the bard’s hometown (Oxford YHA).
Thu June 14: Those not continuing to week 3 will visit London and plan to fly out on the 15th. Those continuing can take a daytrip to London or have a rest day in Oxord (Oxford/London YHA)
Fri June 15: Those continuing to week 3 will take a train to Dover and then a ferry to France. We’ll see the White Cliffs of Dover by sea. Travel by car to our lodgings in Amiens (Amiens Chateau).
Sat June 16: See Inklings related World War I sites, including the Somme valley and the Thiepval Memorial. We’ll discuss the TCBS and Rob Gilson, Tolkien’s friend who died in WWI but predicted the future greatness of Tolkien’s writings (Amiens Chateau).
Sun June 17: More WWI options, with flexibility depending on where travelers wish to explore (Amiens Chateau).
Mon June 18: Scenic travel day up into Switzerland by train. Short stop in Paris (Interlaken Youth Hostel).
Tue June 19: We will begin to recreate some of the alpine journey of JRRT which inspired the mountains of Middle-earth. The 19th will include a hike around the Lauterbrunnen valley, which has over 70 waterfalls (Interlaken Youth Hostel).
Wed June 20: We will take the train up to the top of Jungfraujoch, the highest railway station in Europe – at an altitude of 3,454 meters in a high-alpine wonderland of ice, snow and rock. The second part of the day could take us east to the town of Meiringen by local train. This is another JRRT spot and includes the Aare Gorge and Reichenbach Falls, of Sherlock fame (Interlaken Youth Hostel).
Thur June 21: We will leave Interlaken in the morning by train. The plan is to take a 2-hour train journey from Interlaken to Lausanne on the north shore of Lake Geneva. This journey will be super scenic and may be combined with a ferry for the last part of the journey. This would be about a 3-hour scenic cruise by boat from Lausanne to Geneva over the rest of the lake (AirBnB in Geneva).
Fri June 22: Many options for exploring Geneva. We can develop this day more based on what people want to see and do. Geneva is expensive, but there are plenty of cool things to do (AirBnB in Geneva).
Sat June 23:
We will get up in the morning and head to Geneva Airport for our flights home.
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.
Estimated Trip Costs
Base: Inklings Abroad (lodging, in country transport, most activities, most breakfasts) 1875 US $
Base: Inklings Continental (lodging, in country transport, most activities, most breakfasts) 2275 US $
Base: Inklings Everything (lodging, in country transport, most activities, most breakfasts) 2675 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 base figure which you pay us, includes your lodging, your in-country transportation, most of your breakfasts, and many of your in-country activities. All of the above will be arranged for you by team of 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 amount at the very least by the first day of the trip.
We will have a few Day-Trip Days!
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. There will also be free options for day trips.
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 David 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 Inklings Abroad (formerly Inklings of Clemson). 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, 2017. Checks should be written out to:
The Inklings of Clemson
205 Riverbirch Drive
Clemson, SC. 29631