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A Good Walk Unspoiled

  • The view from the top of Helvellyn.
    The view from the top of Helvellyn.
  • Three Castles in Ireland.
    Three Castles in Ireland.
  • Walking to Whitby in England.
    Walking to Whitby in England.
January 31, 2017
This summer, the College will mark the 20th anniversary of its Kiplin Hall program, a three-week course devoted to examining the works of the Romantics and walking in their footsteps through England and Ireland.

Every student who has experienced the Kiplin Hall summer trip waxes rhapsodic about spending their days walking through the English countryside, hiking up and down mountains, and visiting literary heritage sites including Dove Cottage. For many, it was the biggest draw in their decision to choose Washington College. 

Says Abby Guise ’18, an English major who made the trek through England and Ireland with English Professor Richard Gillin and his wife, Barbara, last summer: “None of the other colleges that I looked at offered a program as unique as this one. The opportunity to see the landscape that inspired authors like Coleridge and the Brontë sisters is an incredible one. Seeing the inspiration behind their works made reading them so much more valuable, because I felt more of a connection to the words on the page when I could see with my own eyes how incredibly beautiful the landscape actually is. And while being able to see the scenery that inspired some of my favorite authors was hugely valuable, for me, the most valuable things I learned from the Kiplin trip actually came from the life lessons I learned.”            

A veteran hiker, Guise was unprepared for the difficulty of the English terrain. And that’s part of the trip’s charm. 

“I struggled physically and emotionally during the hikes,” she says. “I would sometimes want to give up and just go back down the mountain, because I would be tired and worn out. But Dr. and Mrs. Gillin never let me give up. They gave me so much encouragement and support on days when I would be ready to throw in the towel during particularly difficult climbs. I completed every single hike with the rest of the group, even though I was often the last person to finish. And I am so incredibly proud of that.”

She also learned just how strong she is.

“I learned that you have to keep going. You can’t just stop and give up. You can only grow when you keep going, even if that means just forcing yourself to take one more step. At the end of each hike, I felt so accomplished, more accomplished than I’d ever felt about getting an “A” on a test or essay. Lastly, I learned how important the support of others is to personal success. Everyone in our group had our own individual strengths and weaknesses. Some of us had tougher times completing the hikes than others, but we always encouraged each other to keep going. We supported each other, and that made all the difference in our abilities to complete the hikes.”

Students on the trip keep a journal of their travels. Below is a journal entry from Guise’s time in Ireland.


July 9, 2016


Our long walk today was quiet and peaceful. I enjoyed the slow, leisurely pace. It was a nice break from our usual strenuous hikes. It was lovely to have a chance to really take in the beautiful Irish landscape. The walk also gave me a chance to reflect on the trip thus far, I am so incredibly amazed and grateful to have this opportunity. Coming from a very small town in rural south central Pennsylvania, Europe has always seemed so exotic to me. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to see more of the world, to experience so much more out of life than my small town could ever offer me. The Kiplin Hall trip has enabled me to do just that. 

This trip has changed me. I don’t feel like the same person I was when I boarded the plane in Philadelphia. I feel so much more confident and sure of myself right now than I ever have before. If you had told me a year ago that today I’d be across the world climbing mountains, I would’ve accused you of lying. I am thankful for the lessons about physical and emotional perseverance that this trip has taught me. During this adventure, I have pushed myself to my breaking point many times, and I am stronger now because of that. What I’ve learned during this experience is that if the quiet, timid girl from middle of nowhere Pennsylvania can climb mountains in Europe, anything is possible. 


Last modified on Dec. 6th, 2017 at 4:07pm by Meghan Livie.