South of London and along the English coast you’ll find the Seven Sisters Cliffs. These beautiful white cliffs are located between Seaford and Eastbourne and make for a fantastic hiking and active day out. You can visit the cliffs from London (or other places) just for the day, or travel down and stay at the towns nearby. Have a read of this guide to learn about the hike and more about this wonderful part of England.
About the Seven Sisters Cliffs
The Seven Sisters Cliffs are located in East Sussex along the south coast of England. The cliffs are part of the South Downs National Park and contain 280 hectares of beautiful white chalk cliffs. Along the route, you’ll get to enjoy views out towards the sea, as well as walk along grassland, see lighthouses and enjoy high views of Seaford and Eastbourne. You may also see local farm animals such as cows and sheep, as well as wildlife including rabbits and birds.
Where to start and getting there
To do the full Seven Sisters hike you can start at either Eastbourne or Seaford and then walk east or west. If you’d prefer to tackle a smaller section and have a more relaxed visit you’ll find car parks along Beachy Head Road which runs close to the cliffs and trails.
Options include getting the train to either Seaford or Eastbourne. When travelling from London it takes roughly 1.30-2 hours. If you wanted to start and return from the same station (ie Eastbourne) then after your hike you could get bus 12, 12A or 12X back to your original starting point.
If travelling by train then we’d highly recommend booking your tickets at least a day before. This way you can often get “advance” tickets which are significantly cheaper than on the day. You can find and purchase these on Trainline (we also use this service). When getting “advance” tickets the times are often fixed though so keep this in mind, especially if you’re travelling to Seaford and back from Eastbourne. You should give yourself around 7 hours from arrival to departure for this to be comfortable. More so if you’re planning to stop a lot which is definitely a good idea.
There are various places to park along the route such as at South Hill Barn Car Park or Exceat close to Seaford, at Birling Gap, Beachy Head Main Car Park close to Eastbourne, as well as a few more spots along the main road that runs nearby. Alternatively, park within the actual towns. You could then complete the hike and get the bus (12, 12A or 12X) back to your starting point. Remember that depending on where you park you may have a slight walk from the bus stop to the car park.
You can also visit the Seven Sisters Cliffs by going on a tour. You’ll find a tour option through GetYourGuide and Viator. These may include train tickets from London to Brighton and then mini-bus travel around the South Downs National Park and stops at various places. These might not offer the same kind of experience as getting the train and doing a full hike but definitely another option to consider.
The Seven Sisters hike
The full hike is fairly challenging and covers a distance of around 12 miles (Seaford train station to Eastbourne train station). This will take around 4-6 hours depending on how fast you walk and how much you stop (ie for lunch). Throughout the hike you’ll be walking up and down hills along the coast. Some sections are fairly steep but the distance for each uphill section isn’t too long which makes it easier. It’s also best to do this hike when the weather is fairly nice and not wet.
Remember you don’t have to cover the entire walk and could instead opt for smaller sections. Such as only to Birling Gap and back. There are also various places to park along the route if you’re driving and only want to see some sections.
For those after the ultimate challenge then consider hiking the entire Seven Sisters between Seaford and Eastbourne both there and back.
As you walk the route you’ll get to enjoy stunning views of the countryside and landscape and out towards the sea, as well as the Beachy Head Lighthouse, beaches, and occasionally local buildings. You’ll find various places to stop along the way, be it the cafe at Birling Gap, the Beachy Head Pub and the occasional bench.
How hard is the Seven Sisters Hike?
If you were to do the entire Seven Sisters hike between Seaford and Eastbourne we’d give it an 8/10 for difficulty. This is due to the distance, as well as the many hills that are on the route. These will slowly sap your energy over time and you’ll definitely have tired legs and feet by the end of it. Depending on your fitness you may want to consider a smaller section or a tour if you are worried about whether you could manage the entire route. Hiking poles can also come in handy for the hills and would definitely aid if it was wet.
How long does it take to hike the Seven Sisters?
If you plan to hike the entire route then give yourself up to 6 hours. If you’re a fast walker and don’t stop much then you could do this in less time.
Consider smaller sections of the hike if you’d like something shorter or that would take less time. Such as Eastbourne to Burling Gap and back, or even Beachy Head pub to Burling Gap.
The Seven Sisters walk can be perfectly safe, but you should remember not to stray too close to the cliff edge. It is a steep drop to a rocky bottom and although you may feel you have good balance, the edge of the cliff may be less stable than you think and even a strong gush of wind could prove fatal. There are plenty of spots along the route where you can get good pictures safely without getting close to the edge.
Items you may want to remember for your hike depending on the conditions include:
- A good pair of hiking boots
- Plenty of water
- A windproof coat
- Walking poles can be helpful
- A hat and gloves are handy if it’s windy or cold
Places to eat
Along the Seven Sisters walk, you’ll find several places to stop off and eat. Including the National Trust café at Birling Gap and The Beachy Head pub. Or you could eat once complete your hike at Seaford or Eastbourne such as in a nice cosy pub.
Alternatively, you could even take food with you and have a picnic but do remember to respect the environment and leave nothing behind. There are grocery stores, bakeries and other stores at both Seaford and Eastbourne where you could pick up some items.
Other things to do
The waterfront at Eastbourne and Seaford is very nice and you can even swim in the sea here. It may prove cold but equally refreshing. If you wanted to extend your trip you could consider staying in Eastbourne.
Find places to stay in Eastbourne
To find places to stay consider using our interactive map below.
Here are some tour options that you may like through our partners. You may also find other options available on sites such as Meetup.com.
The Seven Sisters Cliffs is one of the many beautiful places to visit on the English coast and make for a great day of hiking and exploring. For more information on visiting the Seven Sisters Cliffs Country Park head over to sevensisters.org.uk.
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