I’m happy to be writing about another beautiful day spent exploring rural England. Dan and I went all the way to the southern coast and walked along the rolling Seven Sisters chalk cliffs. This trip helped me realize how relatively small this country is; we were able to easily venture to the English Channel and back to London in one day—amazing!
The total journey took 2 hours and a few trains. Well, 3 trains & 1 bus (there are many that go along the coast) to be exact (London –> Brighton –> Eastbourne –> Seven Sisters) but English trains seemed to be so well scheduled that it was all rather seemless. And totally worth it.
The Seven Sisters
Located in Sussex, the Seven Sisters is comprised of several coastal chalk hills and is actually part of the 100-mile national trail called the South Downs Way. In total, Dan and I only walked a meager ~6 miles, but I’ve added the South Downs Way to my mental hiking trail wish-list.
After arriving about 12 pm, we first stopped at the Visitors Center and spoke with a friendly national trust volunteer. He gave us some helpful tips:
- If you want to see the best views of the Seven Sisters it’s best to first hike to the right side of the Cuckmere River to the Coast Guard Cottages (See picture below)
- There is not a bridge over the river from this area so you will need to walk back to the visitors center area before walking over the cliffs (50 min roundtrip)
- The cliffs are eroding by about 2 meters a year, so do not stand near the edge! (It was obvious not all the hikers had this information because many people went right up the edges, which was a bit nerve-wracking to witness)
With that minimal but helpful information, we were off to enjoy the splendor of white coastal views.
Coast Guard Cottages
South Downs Way
Once returning back to the Visitors Center area, we began walking on the left side of the Cuckmere River on the South Downs Way path.
The trail curved through SHEEP HEAVEN and I was elated to be surrounded by so many of the fluffy, cute creatures. I thought they might be startled because we encroached on their grass but they seem unphased by us.
No wait, they didn’t seem unphased, it almost seemed like they wanted our attention, and at one point I could have sworn they started posing for us.
Once I got over the excitement of the sheep encounter, we became lulled by the up and downs of walking each hill, each one seeming steeper than the last, but the more we walked, the less people there were on the trail.
We stopped every now and again to take in the views to our left and our right. It really was unlike anything I had seen before. Although beautiful, to me, the white looked out of place on the cliffs, like the artist had run out of brown pigment and thought “I guess this will have to do”. And the chalk faces were completely unaware that the rhythmic kisses from its timeless friend, the soft, innocent looking sea, were the cause of its dissolution. (WOAHHH, can you tell I’ve just finished reading Virginia Woolf?)
We ended in the area called Birling Gap which has a National Trust shop & cafe, and stairs leading down to the rocky shore where a few people were relaxing after a long day hiking. At this point, it was around 4:00 pm and the afternoon sun was peaking out, (of course this would happen just as we finished) and we enjoyed the brighter perspective of the white coastal views. Wanting to have enough time for dinner in Eastbourne, we began walking to the bus stop in East Dean. (Note: there is one at Birling, we just got a little impatient.)
This 1-mile walk to the bus stop was unexpectedly DELIGHTFUL. The road took us through a small, idyllic, blooming, afternoon-sun-soaked English village, featuring fields of sheep and a Cricket match between the local teams. (Pictures in the slideshow at the bottom.)
Overall, the Seven Sisters was yet another relatively easy and very enjoyable
escape day trip from London. (Just kidding, I’m actually starting to really like London. More to come on that topic in a post to follow). In the future, I would try and arrive earlier in order to have enough time to keep walking eastward along the coast to Beachy Head and to the beautiful Belle Tout Lighthouse that was in the distance. Maybe next time 🙂
Thanks for reading!
I’d love to hear suggestions for more day trips from London. Feel free to comment below.
A few more pictures if you are interested: