New book forthcoming

Good news! Manchester University Press have offered Sharif and I a contract to publish our hippy trail book in HC with a follow-up PB version. It’s likely the HC will be published late this year or early next year. The title is still to be confirmed but the working title, for now, is Journeys to Nirvana: a history of the Hippy Trail, 1957-78.

As you can imagine, we’re both very happy. Many thanks to all who helped us on the journey, including but not limited to those who consented to be interviewed, who completed a questionnaire, who contributed to the conference, sent us photos, and contributed to this blog. We will acknowledge as many of you as possible in the book itself.

Brian & Sharif

8 May 2016

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Tourists, travellers and the hippy trail — a talk by Prof Sharif Gemie


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Former drug smuggler turned author Howard Marks dies (BBC)

Former drug smuggler turned author Howard Marks has died at the age of 70.

Marks, from Kenfig Hill, Bridgend county, announced last year he had been diagnosed with inoperable bowel cancer.

Jailed in the US in 1990 after being convicted of smuggling cannabis, he recalled his exploits in a best-selling autobiography, Mr Nice, which was later made into a film starring Rhys Ifans.

The father of four stood for election to Parliament in 1997 on a single-issue ticket of reforming cannabis laws.

Marks also regularly toured a one-man show in which he recounted stories about drug smuggling and his time in prison.

Revealing his illness in January 2015, Marks said he had “no regrets” about his life.

His drug smuggling began in the 1970s after he graduated from Oxford University with a degree in physics.

In 1988, he was arrested in Spain as part of a US Drug Enforcement Agency-led operation and extradited to Florida. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and released on parole in 1995 for good behaviour.

As well as the film version of Mr Nice, Marks had cameo roles in the movie Human Traffic and appeared on TV including on the BBC quiz show Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

He also collaborated on songs with the Super Furry Animals and made appearances at the Glastonbury festival.

A sequel to Mr Nice, Senor Nice, came out in 2006, and five years later Marks published a crime novel, Sympathy for the Devil.

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New documentary

Clare Handford is making a feature length documentary for the BBC about the hippy trail. It will be told entirely using archive from the time and master interviews with those who did it as well as local people in key locations along the route. If you would like to contact Clare to share your experiences, her email address is clarehandford (AT) gmail (DOT) com

(In case you don’t know, I’ve listed the email address in this format to avoid spam. Replace the (AT) and (DOT) with the correct symbols when emailing.)

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New museum exhibition in the Netherlands

Sharif Gemie and Brian Ireland have written an article on the Hippy Trail, which will appear in the exhibition catalogue for ‘The Sixties: A worldwide happening’ at the National Museum of World Cultures, Netherlands.

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Hippy Trail links, books and sources

Hi. We thought we would put this on a separate page as a resource for researchers and travellers. Thanks to Sharif for putting it together. We will add to it in due course. If you have ideas, please post them!


Hippy Trail books and Web-site Accounts

1. Dave Barrett, Christmas in Kathmandu (self-published, no date)
2. Jonathan D. Benyon, Road to Goa,, accessed 29 May 2012
3. George Bulcock, Crossing Bolton Road: a boys [sic] own adventure with The Society of Heretical, International Travellers (Self-published, Amazon/Kindle, 2011);
4. David Courtney, An American in Hyderabad: Life in India in the 1970s (Houston: Sur Sangeet Services, 2012)
5. Johnny Dolphin, Journey Around an Extraordinary Planet (Oracle, Arizona: Synergetic Press, 1990)
6. Eight Finger Eddie, My Rise to Relative Obscurity, 1924—1972 (undated, unpublished text, available at:; PDF format; accessed on 20 Jan 2013)
7. Richard Gregory, ‘The Hippie Trail 1974—London to Kathmandu: A Personal Account of the Classic Overland Trip’,, undated and unpaginated, accessed 10 June 2012
8. Michael Hall, Remembering the Hippie Trail: travelling across Asia 1976—1978 (Newtownabbey: Island Publications, 2007)
9. Sarah Hobson, Through Persia in Disguise (London: John Murray, 1973)
10. Robert Irwin, Memoirs of a Dervish (London: Profile Books, 2011)
11. Basil Jay, 65 Days to Delhi: An Incredible Journey (Bloomington: AuthorHouse, 2012): Kindle edition,
12. Derek Lewis, Headlong Into Life (Pontypridd: DGLP, 2010)
13. Harvey Meyers, Hariyana (San Francisco: Omkara Press, 1979)
14. Chris Nicholson, There and Back (Halstead: Swiftnick, 2001)
15. Erik Pontoppiden, ‘The Hippie Trail—The Road to Paradise’,, accessed 21 June 2012
16. Philippa Pullar, The Shortest Journey (London: Unwin, 1984 [1981])
17. Jeffrey Shortsight, Zim Zim and other things I learnt on my travels in the East; however these memoirs have more recently become known as Torrid Tales (Okehampton: Winestains Press, 2011)
18. Gerald Taylor, Jesus Weed: The Misadventures of a Young Man in Search of the Perfect High (London: Edbury, 2005)
19. David Tomory (ed), A Season in Heaven: True Tales from the Road to Kathmandu (London: Thorsons, 1996)
20. Irina Tweedie, The Chasm of Fire: A Woman’s Experience of Liberation through the Teaching of a Sufi Master (Tisbury: Element Books, 1979)
21. Gerry Virtue, On the Road with Geoff and Jules; Adventures on the Early Hippie Trail 1959—60 (Amazon/Kindle, 2013); unpaginated, figures refer to Kindle locations
22. Tom Widdicombe, Autobiography of a Nobody (Milton Keynes: no publisher [self-published?], 2012)
23. John Worrall, Travelling for Beginners: To Kathmandu in ’72 (Amazon/Kindle, 2012)

Literature about the Trail

1. Duncan Campbell, The Paradise Trail (London: Headline, 2008)
2. Esther Freud, Hideous Kinky (New York, San Diego and London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1992)
3. Maggi Lidchi, Earthman (London: Victor Gollancz, 1967)
4. Janet MacLeod Trotter, The Vanishing of Ruth (no place: MacLeod Trotter Books, 2010)
5. Sherman Williamson, The Glory Trap (New York: Walker, 1977)

And thanks to Bruce Thomas for this contribution.

Quite some time ago you indicated that you were planning to post a bibliography on overland travel from Europe to the Indian Sub-continent. As it happens, for some years I have been researching this topic too, particularly its early history prior to the ‘hippie era’. Ignoring the likes of Alexander the Great and Marco Polo, I have found that Asian overlanding in the modern era has a rich history which I have tracked back as far as the first successful journey by car from the UK to British India in 1924. The following books and articles are those I have (with two exceptions) read and can remember –

1. From England to India by Automobile – Maj. FAC Forbes-Leith, National Geographic Magazine, August 1925. Leeds to Quetta in 1924.
2. Express to Hindustan – MH Ellis (1929). First car driving London to Delhi in 1927.
3. Francis Birtles, Australian Adventurer – Warren Brown (2012). First car driving London to Singapore, then Darwin to Melbourne in 1927/28.
4. From Malaya to London on a Riley 9, The Riley Record (1929). Several articles as the journey progressed.
5. The Citroen-Haardt Trans-Asiatic Expedition Reaches Kashmir – Maynard Owen Williams, National Geographic Magazine, October 1931. Motoring Beirut to Kashmir, then Kashgar to Peking (subsequent articles).
6. Round the World in a Baby Austin – Hector Macquarrie (1933).
Road to Oxiana – R Byron (1937). Reached Afghanistan but not India in 1933/34.
7. London to Calcutta Overland 1938 – OD Wright and ELD White (1988). In a 1931 Morris. Mentions that the trip was done “occasionally by army officers going to and from India”.
8. The Cruel Way: Switzerland to Afghanistan in a Ford, 1939 – Ella Maillart (1947). The author then went on to India for the duration of WWII.
9. Dust on My Shoes – Peter Pinney (1952). Hitch hiking overland to Burma in 1948.
10. A Long Way South – Geoffrey Dutton (1953). Motoring London to Ceylon in 1951.
Around the World with Motorcycle and Camera – Eitel & Rolf Lange (1957). Including Germany to India in 1953.
11. The Other Half of Half Safe – Ben Carlin (1989). Round the world in a WWII amphibious Jeep, including driving overland to India (1955) and sailing across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans! The vehicle is preserved in Perth, Western Australia.
12. Behind the Wheel – David McKay (1960). Including Bombay to London in 1955.
13. We Never Meant to Go so Far – Mavis Ronson (1964). Including UK to India in 1955/56.
14. First Overland – Tim Slessor (1957). London-Singapore-London in 1955/56.
15. Earth, My Friend – Peter Townsend (1959). Round the world including London to Singapore in 1956.
16. ‘Two-up’, by Scooter to Australia – Michael Mariott (1960). Journey in 1956.
17. Four Wheels & Frontiers – Roy Follows (2005). Malaya to UK in 1958.
Drive Round the World – J-C Baudot & J Seguela (1962). Including overland Asia in 1959.
18. Long Road to London – Peter Jeans (1998). Singapore-London by motorcycle in 1962/63.
19. Overland by Bus 1962, Perth to London on a Shoestring – Elsie M Newcombe (2006).
20. Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle – Dervla Murphy (1965). Travelled in 1963.
21. Seven Years with Samantha – Clive Ball (1974). Round the world in a 1929 Austin 7, including overland to India in 1965.


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Folk Roots magazine


Ad in ‘Froots’ (Folk Roots magazine No.352)


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Interviewees needed

Advert in Private Eye (No.1321)


We would like to interview people who did the Hippy Trail. Please contact us via the blog or email:

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