A sunny but blowy, blustery day we clamber uphill and almost instantly treated to stunning views of the cliffs of the Birling Gap. Onwards and upwards we eventually reach the first lighthouse which sits perched upon the cliff top- Belle Tout. I read that this was the original lighthouse that was later decommissioned because it sat so high up it was often engulfed by fog and so ships weren’t always able to see it – not ideal for a lighthouse! It was later partially destroyed during WWII but ‘lovingly rebuilt in the 50’s’ according to the website and now it functions as a luxury B&B!
After Belle Tout we head down the hill and we catch our first glimpse of what I have come searching for….the Beachy Head Lighthouse. This lighthouse actually sits in the sea and has been functional since 1902. She is so grand stationed there, in all her glory. Her red and white stripes pop against a backdrop of pastel sea hues, framed by those famous white cliffs. I know it is a platitude but it really is a sight for sore eyes. Granted there hasn’t been much competition but I can soundly say this is one of the coolest things I’ve seen all year. I don’t know if i’m drunk on sea air or whipped up into a frenzy from the wind but it literally brings tears to my eyes. I feel like I am in a Wes Anderson Film set.
Apparently keeping the red and white stripes has been quite a feat. In 2011, the company that owns the lighthouse announced that they could no longer afford to keep painting the stripes and so it would be left to return to its natural state. Fortunately a community campaign came to the rescue to raise the requisite funds to repaint the lighthouse characteristic stripes.
You can catch many glimpses of her all around the Beachy Head cliff tops, although do take care! I edged with much trepidation towards the edge, not too close mind. By this point my fur baby has completely given up and has taken refuge in my backpack. I’ve read the warnings and do not want to be remembered as the silly tourist who went tumbling over the edge whilst carrying a 6km King Charles Cavalier on her back!
The Seven Sisters Cliff Walk can be done in one go (approx. 13 miles) either from Seaford to Eastbourne or in the reverse or like me you can do in parts.
On one occasion I parked up at Cuckmere Haven in the carpark to the left just as you are driving into the Seven Sisters Country Park. There is also parking at Birling Gap and Beachy Head. Do bring coins for the machines.
It is also very easy to get the train from London Victoria / Clapham Junction and only takes about an hour and a half.
Regular buses run along the Seaford / Eastbourne route so if you do the journey one way and need to get back its very easy to do so!
Eastbourne is an absolute delight and I had the most wonderful stay at the very dog-friendly Cherry Tree Guest House. Only £50 p/night for a single room and very hearty breakfast included, all ingredients sourced from local farms!
A fabulous dog-friendly pub is The Dolphin, they treated us very kindly.