The Seven Sisters

Apparently May 2018 was the sunniest and warmest on record in the UK. We made the most of the hot and sunny weather by going on lots of trips around England. One Saturday, we caught the train to Sussex to walk one of the most scenic hikes in the UK: the Seven Sisters coastal cliff walk.

Getting there

There are several variations of the walk, some being only a few hours long. We decided to walk east from Seaford to Eastbourne, which is a good full day walk.

There weren’t any direct trains from London to Seaford, so we had to change trains at Lewes. The train to Lewes was a much smaller local train, and it looked like everybody else changing trains was about to embark on the same hike as us!

Arriving in sunny beachfront Seaford, we met up with our group, who were total strangers before that morning! We had advertised on a London social media group that we were doing the walk and invited people to join us.

Colourful beach huts in Seaford.
Colourful beach huts in Seaford.
The pebble beach at Seaford.
The pebble beach at Seaford.

Crossing the river

We merrily hiked up Seaford Head, the first hill. It was quite steep, but we had lots of enthusiasm since we had just started. As we rounded the corner we caught our first glimpse of the glistening white Seven Sisters cliffs in the distance.

Our first view of the Seven Sisters.
Our first view of the Seven Sisters.

Before we could get there we had to cross the Cuckmere river. At low tide you can cross the shallow river, however it was high tide when we arrived so we had to take a detour along the riverbank and through some farmland to cross at a small bridge upstream.

Some cows down by the river.
Some cows down by the river.
Some local resident sheep.
Some local resident sheep.

Rolling hills

The Seven Sisters cliffs are made of chalk, which gives them their bright white colour. Apparently, the Seven Sisters are often used in movies as a stand-in for the white cliffs of Dover, which have more buildings and structures on them and are duller in colour.

The rolling hills.
The rolling hills.

As you may have guessed, there’s seven sisters (there are in fact eight hills though). That means lots of walking up and down over the rolling hills. It gets quite steep at places giving you a strong sense of vertigo. You also often feel as if you are walking on an angle.

The edges of the cliffs were quite deceptive and without any sort of fence to act as an obvious barrier. It was quite easy to wander close to the edge without realising. This is not a good idea, as the cliffs are very unstable and are constantly eroding into the sea. People accidentally fall to their death from these cliffs regularly. We saw lots of people ignoring the official advice to stay 5 meters away from the edge so that they could take pictures.

There are several interesting points of interest as you walk, including some lighthouses and plaques. There’s also a wide range of walkers, some with dogs, some with bikes, and some with children.

Belle Tout Lighthouse.
Belle Tout Lighthouse.

Lunchtime

We stopped at the National Trust building in Birling Gap for lunch. From this point on the cliff you can walk down to the beach and go for a swim. However, as it is a pebble beach and it was going to rain, we decided against it.

Looking back at the cliffs in Birling Gap.
Looking back at the cliffs in Birling Gap.

There is so much erosion to the cliffs each year that eventually they will have to move the National Trust building because otherwise the land its on will crumble and the building will fall into the sea!

There’s always a pub

The good thing about hiking in England is that there’s always a pub nearby. This hike proved to be no exception.

The nice pub we stopped at.
The nice pub we stopped at.

At the top of Beachy Head there is a conveniently located pub, funnily enough called “The Beachy Head”. Nothing better than a drink at a pub to cool down after a long day walking in the sunshine!

Time to go home

We slowly meandered down the hills and into Eastbourne where we caught the train back to London.

We greatly enjoyed the Seven Sisters walk. Despite it being a 22km walk, we found it relaxing, quite flat despite the undulating hills, and fairly leisurely compared to other walks back home in New Zealand and in other countries. It was however given a 9/10 difficulty rating!

We’re looking forward to making the most of the glorious sunny summer weather and embarking on more long walks like this one outside of London!

Jase and Kimmie