It is a rare occurrence that I will willingly wake up before 6AM. Very rare. But on a Sunday in September, I did just that (with the help of Andrew of course) to set out on a bus-train-bus journey for a London day trip hiking the Seven Sisters.
The Seven Sisters are a series of undulating hills along the coast with striking chalk cliffs. There is a trail beginning in Seaford that leads along the top of the chalk cliffs and we headed south to hike using the Saturday Walkers Club’s Seaford to Eastbourne (The 7 Sisters) Walk as our guide. I highly, highly recommend visiting as these cliffs are incredibly beautiful.
We began our journey on a bus to Victoria Station, then boarded a train to Brighton. Once in Brighton, we hopped the Coaster bus along the coast to Seaford. All told, that took about three hours or so, with an hour of that journey spent on the scenic bus route from Brighton. We were lucky to snag seats in the front row of the top level of the double-decker bus. You are able to pay your bus fare when you board, so be sure to bring cash.
Seaford was sleepy on a Sunday morning. We cut through the town centre to the beach to begin our hike along the cliffs. There are public restrooms at the beach, FYI!
Even the first cliffs we approached were beautiful, and the Seven Sisters hadn’t even come into view yet! We were super lucky and had a lovely, warm and sunny morning to explore this area.
The first path was grassy and filled with wildflowers and burrowed holes from the rabbits that live there.
The sea has a turquoise colour to it that gets lighter as it mixes with the chalk from the cliffs. The resulting shades are beautiful.
We ventured at low tide, and despite strict instructions in our walk guide to not attempt to ford the river, Andrew somehow convinced me that we should. This saved us about 2 miles of hiking up along the river to the bridge and then back to the coast.
It is not for the faint of heart (like me). It was perfectly reasonable of the instructions to strongly caution against it. Had had the tide been any higher, we may have gotten stuck. There were several bounding leaps involved over rushing streams into piles of pebbles. There was also a walk along what looked like an abandoned pier whose wood was wet and slick with seaweed.
We managed to escape unscathed and dry, with just a small amount of water in my boot from splashing, not stepping into too deep a rivulet. I was particularly proud of my accomplishment and the adrenaline rush made me feel pretty darn pumped up for the hike ahead.
The Seven Sisters
The real advantage of fording the river was not the time saved, but the opportunity to walk further along the beach and up to the chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters.
Seeing them up close gave us an opportunity to appreciate the sheer size of these beautiful cliffs.
This was my favourite part of the day.
After admiring the cliffs for a bit, we carried on with our hike. The many vistas the ups and downs of the hike provided were beautiful.
The trail over the Seven Sisters is grassy and when it gets steep, wooden steps help make the trail easier to climb. The longer we hiked, the more crowded the trail became, as people joined on from the various car parks along the route.
We continued on to Birling Gap, where we stopped for a quick break. The tearoom there was really cute and even had gluten free treats! It’s a great point to explore for people interested in viewing the Seven Sisters, but not so interested in hiking up and down them.
From there, we headed on past Belle Tout Lighthouse (where you can spend the night!) and the Beachy Head Lighthouse to Beachy Head. As we got closer and closer to Beachy Head, the sky got darker and darker. As our end destination, the Beachy Head Pub, came into view, the first raindrops started to fall. We couldn’t have planned it better!
Beachy Head Pub
The pub was large and lovely. It was lively on a Sunday afternoon, with many locals gathering for to enjoy a roast. We had luckily made a reservation in advance, otherwise, we might have been out of luck, and there is little else around that particular area.
We had a delicious meal and it was the perfect place to ride out the rain.
We caught the bus back just across the street and began our journey home. It was truly a Sunday well spent in a beautiful part of England. If you are looking for a great London day trip hiking the Seven Sisters is a great way to spend a day!
Good to Know
The hike is rated at a 9/10 on the difficulty scale. There are some steep ascents and descents along the way. It may not have been the smartest move to embark on this particular hike in brand new, never-used-before hiking boots, but we both did fine and ended the hike blister free! While parts were challenging, for two fit adults, it was an enjoyable and at times even leisurely hike along the coast. And we did it while super sore from BodyPump the day before (another not so smart move, ha!).
For those wanting to see the cliffs, but not hike, the bus stops at the major sights along the way and makes for minimal climbing. Also, for those who do not want to spend 3 hours commuting from London, renting a car would cut down your travel time to somewhere to the tune of two to two and a half hours. If you have a car, I have heard fabulous things about the Tiger Inn in East Dean.