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Take a Hike across Seven Sisters on the South Downs Way

25 March 2022

A Glorious Day of Hiking in Sussex

Forming part of the 110-mile South Downs Way, starting in Eastbourne and finishing in Winchester in Hampshire, this stunning eight-mile hike takes about five hours to complete. If you enjoy walking, you will love this wonderful walk, so put on your hiking boots and head for the hills!

Eastbourne

Eastbourne is just an hour and a half from Victoria London by train. You can either set out on the hike from Eastbourne and take a bus back, or hop on a bus to Seven Sisters Country Park and make your way back to Eastbourne.

The trail takes in some spectacular scenery. From the white cliffs and lighthouse of Beachy Head to Birling Gap and Cuckmere Estuary, there are an abundance of sights to see.  

To Beachy Head

Kick off your hike with a gentle stroll along Eastbourne’s elegant seafront. Head west towards the cliffs and take in the sights of the pier, bandstand and Wish Tower.

As you reach the end of the promenade and the beginning of the towering chalk cliffs, veer right and make tracks up the steep slope. This trail takes you over the hills to the iconic red and white striped lighthouse at Beachy Head.

The 530-feet high cliffs dramatically overlook the lighthouse. The cliffs have a pure white appearance due to constant erosion - it’s a spectacular spot indeed.

Belle Tout Lighthouse

Keep walking along the clifftops towards the Belle Tout Lighthouse, which you’ll be able to see in the distance. Built in 1832, the lighthouse has been used in many films and TV shows including The Loves and Lives of a She Devil and James Bond film, The Living Daylights.

As well as a lighthouse, it’s been a tea shop, private home and these days, it’s a hotel. The rooms each have a theme – you can stay in the Captain’s Cabin, Beach Hut or Keeper’s Loft.

Birling Gap

The tiny hamlet of Birling Gap is perched on a cliff edge and consists of a café and a cluster of cottages. Head down to the pebble beach – when the tide is low, there are numerous rock pools to explore.

The cliffs of Birling Gap are crumbling away and the cottage nearest to cliff edge has clearly been abandoned. In fact, all along the clifftops of the coast, there are signs warning people not to walk too close to the edge in case the fragile cliffs give way underfoot, so watch your step!

The Tiger Inn

From Birling Gap, it’s worth taking a detour inland to the village of East Dean about a mile away. The Tiger Inn, located on the village green, is a 15th century watering hole and is the perfect spot to indulge in some hearty pub grub and a pint of Sussex ale.

Re-energised, make tracks back to the coast and continue over the Seven Sisters. This series of cliffs stretch along undeveloped coastline all the way to Cuckmere, three miles away.

Cuckmere

The valleys of the Seven Sisters were carved into the chalk by the meltwater of the ice age. The steep grassy banks rise and fall, making for a challenging, but rewarding walk.

The views of the English Channel and sculpted cliffs are stunning and it’s easy to see why the landscape is a magnet for film makers. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Atonement and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire were all filmed in the area.

As you approach Cuckmere, there are panoramic views of the estuary which snakes its way through the countryside to the sea. It’s a breath-taking way to end a wonderful day’s walk along the south coast.