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Seaford to Eastbourne
two days over the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head

We first risked this open, wind-prone coastline in mid-March 2022 and again in late January 2024; you can do it any time of year. The chalk of the Seven Sisters bathed in sun is glorious, but can look a bit dingy on duller days. The views are justly famous, and the two sections inland made a nice contrast and easy level walking. We found the ups easier than expected - the one up to Beachy Head is the longest. There is no beach walking on this stretch. Our overnight stop at The Tiger Inn, East Dean was delightful.

We used the 1:25,000 OS Explorer map of Eastbourne and Beachy Head, but you could get away with a less detailed one - navigation is easy. There are moments going to and from East Dean where there is no visible path, but it would be hard to get seriously lost. Frequent trains at each end go to London Victoria (about 1½ hours).

In November 2022 we did the walk the other way and it was also lovely. Walking out of Eastbourne was fun, and the Cuckmere Inn is a good place for lunch on day 2. In mid-December we walked from Seaford further up the Cuckmere to Alfriston, then on day 2 up and along the South Downs Way to Southease. Ice, sleet, snow! On day 2 we couldn't find the path in the snow down to Firle for lunch, it was a bit of a scramble.


Day 1: Seaford to East Dean (8 miles)
It's an easy walk through the pleasant town of Seaford to the front and soon up on to Seaford Head (photo 1). Over the top, you soon get the first view of the Seven Sisters (photo 2) and walk down to Cuckmere Haven. The walk up the left bank (photo 3) makes a nice change from the exposure on the cliffs, with a stop at the Cuckmere Inn by the bridge. We then went over the bridge and took the permissive path (marked on the map in orange) back on the other side, with lovely views over the valley. At Foxhole we joined the South Downs Way back up to the switchback of the Sisters (photo 4). After three of them we turned inland on a prominent path, but not before taking a closer photo of Flagstaff Point (photo 5). The path goes through Crowlink, where we took a slight right turn to go up, over the fields and down to East Dean (about 3½ hours walking).

Day 2: East Dean to Eastbourne (6 miles)
We left the Tiger Inn (on a a delightful village green - photo 6) on the small road going South, keeping to the upper road where it divides. This soon becomes a lovely path flanking a hill (photo 7) and over the fields to Birling Gap, where there is a structure for looking back (photo 8) or getting down to the beach. Then it was more clifftop walking past the lighthouse and a long, steady ascent to Beachy Head. We found this a little disappointing, perhaps because it was so touristy, and maybe because of a sobering conversation with two chaplains who come here to engage with people for whom life is not the joy that we were feeling. So we went on, soon getting a view of Eastbourne (photo 9). We took one of the several paths down and walked along the Prom. After lunch we went to see the pier (photo 10), so redolent of the 1950s and the ends of movies. From there it is a short walk to the station (about 3½ hours walking).

(Click on a photo to see a large version.)
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