Seven Sisters: Chalky White

Eyes wide; hair erratically flapping in gusts of wind; legs cautiously edging forwards; mind racing- screaming stupidity. A Cheeky grin is accompanied with a nervous giggle, and I’m teetering atop the white face of the chalky cliffs… Look out, look down, and retreat!

The Seven sisters is a hike that follows the coastline in the quaint area of the south downs just outside Seaford on the english south coast. Seven Sisters Country Park is a large expanse of open grassy fields and rolling countryside, parts of which second as working farms. All the greenery comes to an abrupt halt at the contrasting white edge, dropping vertically onto rocky beaches.

Entry to the park can be made at many locations, however the most popular places are the visitor center nearest Seaford, just inland from Cuckmere Haven, or further east at Birling Gap. Either way, the open nature of the area allows you to easily make your way from one point to the other. Around the Seven Sisters visitor centre you will find a few different shorter hikes that will lead you to the beach (1.6km), the cliffs or a few small cottages (2.4km) to the western end of the beach.

A short meander down the side of the river, calmly leading you towards the ocean, clay is traded for stones as you reach the beach. Looking out to sea, on your left is a big grassy hill that ascents from the beach end. On the ocean side of this grassy head the green is absent and white cliffs dominate the view. White like chalk, the cliff faces offer a different and uncommon colour amongst the realm of coastal cliffs.

The white of the cliff faces can be attributed to the chalky masses that make up the land. Chalk has a very fine grain which makes it easy to break down, hence the areas of both Dover and the Seven Sisters are constantly breaking down every year. With this in mind, standing on the edge it probably not an astute decision. But you just want to do it anyway, so I did.

white-cliffs-sevensisters-seaford-southdowns
Toes on the edge looking straight down.

Once you make the beach at Cuckmere, waddle your way to the undulating green hills. The trail is almost intuitive: don’t walk too far away from the edge or you will not take in the best of the views & don’t walk yourself off the edge. Makes sense, right?
Rolling over and over all the way to Birling gap, about 5.6km. Here you can take to the beach if you wish and stop your journey if you wish (you will find a small cafe and amenities). Or Beachy head is just a short distance, 2.4 km further. From Beachy head you will be provided with a view looking all the way back to where you have come from. The South Downs area makes it easy for you to turn around and walk all the way back to the visitor centre.

The Seven Sisters Country Park is regularly serviced by public transport making it as easy trip from Brighton or other surrounding areas. Hiking experience and good fitness are really not necessary to see these wonderfully white cliffs, the Downs is so open you can stop and rest or turn around whenever you feel that you have done enough. This can be made an enjoyable day for all ages. More information can be found at the seven sisters country park site.

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