The Simply Stunning Seaford Hike
Spending much of my time exploring this fascinating world we live in, I’ve had far less time to explore my homeland, the beautiful and often overlooked Britain. That, of course, has changed with the pandemic, I am like the rest of us desperately filled with wanderlust! However, with travel still remaining complicated for the time being, I’m making the very most of my time back in Blighty.
So last weekend, I set out on a little adventure to hike the Seven Sisters on the South Coast in Sussex and I was not disappointed. I’ve been fortunate to trek in some incredible locations across the globe and I can honestly say I’ve not done a day trip that was more beautiful, different perhaps, but not more beautiful. Hopefully the photos I took on my very outdated iPhone illustrate the stunning landscape.
Seven Sister Hike
The Seven Sisters hike from Seaford to Eastbourne, is so-called due to the seven undulating hills that run across the chalk cliffed coastline but you could certainly argue there are a few more sisters! The hike itself is about 24 km if it’s high tide and you don’t swim across the river at Cuckmere Haven and for me, it was 4 hours walking time but naturally, I stopped for a mini picnic lunch and at intervals to soak in the picturesque scenery.
The trail starts at the end of Seaford beach, running along the white cliffs to the Seaford Head Nature Reserve. The start of the hike is particularly scenic and after about an hour, having passed Hope Gap, you’ll find yourself at the picture-perfect Cuckmere Haven. Famous for its Coastguard Cottages (Header image) and of course its beach where blockbuster movies such as Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, Harry Potter and Atonement were filmed.
At Cuckmere beach I expected to cross the pebble beach while I marvelled at the Seven Sisters close up but I hadn’t anticipated the high tide which meant the river in the middle of the beach made that impossible without a full swim, no wading across was possible. Had I arrived at low tide I would easily have been able to cross the beach without getting significantly wet. Worry, not there is about a 3km detour inland along the river until you get to the Cuckmere Inn where there is a bridge over the river. Once you’ve crossed the bridge you’ll have the opportunity to head back to the beach or you can take an alternative South Downs Way path that leads to the cliff above the beach. All in all, it took about an additional 30 minutes but it was not the most exciting walk, especially after what I’d just witnessed! However, Cuckmere Inn does offer the opportunity for a toilet and refreshment stop. It’s worth noting that the entire trail is pretty exposed so wild loo visits aren’t easy so do take advantage of any pit stops.
From Cuckmere Haven you’ll continue along the rolling cliff hills for just over an hour until you reach the Birling Gap. Easily accessible by car, this was the busiest part of the walk as people come to enjoy the narrow beach which the white cliffs tower over. You’ll also find a cafe, a shop and toilets should you need them. Having never been a fan of crowds I spent little time here and headed to the Belle Tout Lighthouse which I could see in the distance. On arrival, I came across a small National Trust shop selling refreshments and ice creams, the latter of which I duly treated myself to. What’s a trip to the seaside without ice cream!
Having made light work of my ice cream, I continued on eager to finish the final ascent which I could see in the distance, safe in the knowledge that my research had indicated a pub near famous Beachy Head where I was looking forward to rewarding myself with a cold pint of beer for my endeavours. You’ll know you’re near the pub once you pass the Beachy Head red and white lighthouse, located in the sea at the foot of the cliffs. The walk took me about 45 minutes from the Belle Tout Lighthouse (about 60 minutes from Birling Gap).
Guilty of celebrating a little too early with a couple of pints, I continued on down to Eastbourne. There are several footpaths to choose from of which I randomly chose the higher one and 30 minutes or so later I found myself on the outskirts of Eastbourne where I headed to the peer to sit, rest my legs and enjoy the seaside before heading back to London.
- Start Point: Seaford Beach
- End Point: Eastbourne Pier
- Distance: 24 km
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Ascent: 285 meters
- Descent: 287 meters
- Time Needed: 4 hours walking time + stops
What to Pack
Obviously, this is a little dependent on the weather forecast which is essential you check beforehand so you know what to expect.
- Appropriate footwear
- A hat to protect against the sun
- Sun Lotion
- Sun Glasses
- Toilet Paper (just in case)
- Fully charged mobile
- Fresh clothes including a jumper
- High energy snacks
- Money for refreshments
- Waterproof (if rain is expected or possible)
I would highly recommend this excursion as either a day trip from London or if you are further afield then you can simply extend your trip to a 1 or 2-night trip. We are considering running an escorted day excursion with a delicious picnic in the not-too-distant future so let us know if you’d like us to keep you informed.
Written by James Chisnall, Untravelled Paths