The Seven Sisters are seven mighty chalk cliffs on the coastline between Eastbourne and Seaford that form a very popular walking route.
I walked it a while ago. I did cheat a bit as I walked from Eastbourne to Belle Tout, stayed the night in the Belle Tout Lighthouse and then walked from there to Seaford. Walking it in one go is doable and depending on your pace it should take between 4 and 6 hours. There are also a few shortcuts you can take.
What you need to know before hiking the Seven Sisters
Before you head out, make sure you have comfortable shoes, clothes and enough water. In summer, drench yourself in sunscreen.
Also, remember to not stand near the cliff edges or bases as the cliffs are receding! You’ll see reminders not to get too close to the edge.
The cliffs are not very tall, so it’s not a massive climb, but depending on the weather the hike can be challenging. I cried, cursed and took too many breaks. And I’m only blaming the weather for about half of them. But every time I reached a new peak I forgot all about it.
Eastbourne Station to Beachy Head
Once you get to Eastbourne station use it as an excuse to check out the pier and whatever you see of the city on your way. Then walk along the seaside promenade and head towards Beachy Head. From there you walk up a steep and narrow path and head toward the first viewing point while enjoying the scenery.
Beachy Head Lighthouse
From here you walk along the cliffs and the first thing you’ll run into is the RAF Bomber Command Memorial. This is also where you get the first sights of the red and white Beachy Head Lighthouse.
There’s also a pub nearby where you can eat and drink or make use of the public toilets.
Staying the night at Belle Tout Lighthouse
Then it’s onwards to Belle Tout lighthouse – the white lighthouse on top of the cliff. As I’ve mentioned before you can actually book a stay there as it’s a bed and breakfast! I spent the night in the former Captain’s room, chilled in the lamp room and had the best breakfast with a view!
Fun Fact … the lighthouse had to be moved 17 meters inlands because cliff erosion left the lighthouse just 4 metres from the edge of the cliff, and it was in danger of falling into the sea! Belle Tout was also featured in James Bond’s The Living Daylights.
There is also a little shop that sells essentials like ice-cream, water and other drinks during peak season.
Belle Tout to Birling Gap
After Belle Tout you’ll reach Birling Gap where you can take your pit stop, grab something to eat or head down to the beach.
Keep in mind that this is your last chance to go to the toilet, get water or something to eat.
In case you’ve had enough, you can cut your journey short and take a bus back to Eastbourne. It makes more sense to stop here if you come from Seaford as you’ve technically just climbed your last hill.
Cuckmere Haven to Seaford
The next stretch is towards Cuckmere Haven. It’s a lot of climbing up and down and taking in the scenery and it’s the ever-changing views make this a great walk!
Once you’ve walked down the Seventh Sister you’ll find yourself in Cuckmere Haven. Now you might be lucky and find that the tide is out/low and that you can easily cross the river. If you are there in the middle of summer, dipping your tired feet in the freezing water will be the best thing ever.
If you’re less lucky and the tide is in, you’ll have to walk in until you reach a bridge where you can cross.
The cottages you pass on your way to Seaford are the famous Coastguard Cottages and have been featured in movies and on TV – everything from Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves, to Luther and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Cuckmere Haven to Seaford
From there you continue to follow the coastline to Seaford. You’ll want to keep looking back at the Seven Sisters to see how far you’ve come and just enjoy the calmness of the sea as you go.
And yes…just like many other British walks, you will end up on a golf course. From there, it’s a 10 minute walk to Seaford station.
How to get to Seaford/Eastbourne from London
Twice an hour there is a direct train from London Victoria to Eastbourne taking around 1 hour and 20 minutes.
From Seaford there are also two trains every hour that will take you to London Victoria via Lewes in around 1 hour and 45 minutes.