A while ago, I saw on a friends’ Facebook incredibly beautiful pictures of white cliffs, cascading off into the ocean (think: Cliffs of Moher, but chalky) and no, they weren’t the white cliffs of Dover. It was the Seven Sisters Country Park in East Sussex, England, about a 2-hour train ride from London Victoria. Taking advantage of the gorgeous weather we’ve been having lately, I decided to make the most of it and instead of taking a bottle of bubbly to the park and getting sloshed like the locals, I got out of Dodge and headed to the countryside.
A friend and I bought our train tickets on Friday and hopped aboard Southern Rail to Eastbourne on Sunday, had we pre-booked a bit earlier the tickets would have been a bit cheaper but we wanted to be 100% on the weather first. For an open return train ticket, I spent £33 plus another £5 when we got off at Eastbourne station for a return community bus ticket to the entrance of the park. I had read on some blogs that you could walk to the entrance from the train station, but I would advise you don’t do this. the bus ride was probably 15 mins and it’s all up hill.
The bus ride up to the park took us through the most English looking village I’ve ever seen! Each stop had adorable names like ‘The Lamb, Tally Ho (my fav), Cheery Garden Road, and Gayles Farm!’ I felt like I was in the summer version of ‘The Holiday,’ minus the part that Jude Law falls in love with me … sadly.
When we got off at Seven Sisters Park, there was a tiny information both with details on the marked trails we could choose from. We picked to do the pink route called, Seaford Head Viewing Point and combined the blue (Park Trail) and green trail (South Downs Way) for the way back. The Seaford Head trail takes about 40 mins there and back and gives you a breath-taking view of the white cliffs on the other side of the Bay with these vintage cottages in the foreground. The other two trails take you onto the cliffs themselves on the other side of the water. All the trails were fairly easy, in fact, we saw a lot of older people out for a stroll with their walking poles so it wasn’t challenging at all. We combined the other two and it took us maybe around 2.5 hours, pausing for photo stops and lunch.
The contrast from the fresh green grass, to the baby blue sky and the white chalky cliffs and water below was so strong. I always feel so shocked whenever I leave the drab city and see actual blue sky again, it’s like I’m seeing colour for the first time! That’s kinda sad, but it makes me appreciate things that I would have otherwise taken for granted. I also think the reason the grass was so green was because we were basically trekking through a farm the whole time and there were sheep and cows roaming around and shitting freely all across the National Trust property. Free manure – the circle of life.
When we began along the South Downs Way, there were a lot more people about getting pretty friendly with the edge of the cliffs. I was warned by a friend that chunks of the cliffs has recently eroded off and people had fallen down, not realizing the grass continued farther along than the brittle chalky ground underneath. If you go to the park, please be careful because the edge does creep up on you, there would be no coming back from the white water below. Also, the wind up on the peaks was so strong I was seriously nervous I might get blown off the edge if I went too close!
Along the South Downes Way, you come half way between the lighthouse at the end, and a little village in between two towering cliffs. Right before that is a sign which points you back to East Dean, the little village we drove through earlier. We decided to leave the trail there and head back into town and call it a day. Once we got to the top of the field, the trail sort of disappeared. We followed some other hikers and veered off to the right towards some trees and walked along a little path, bringing us out into the village below. Conveniently located at the bottom, is a pub!! And, get this, a whole pint only costs £3.60!!! It was the best day ever! We were definitely not in London anymore!
After catching some rays in the sun and hanging with the locals, we hopped back on the community bus, which was a 2 minute walk away from the pub, and made our way back to Eastbourne. As you can imagine, at this point we were starved and began wandering the coastal seaside town for some fresh fish and chips! We found one restaurant that had both sit down and take away options. We planned on sitting on their patio, but when we compared prices for a regular fish and chips, it was literally double!! So, being the frugal person I am, we ordered take out and sat on the benches directly in front of the patio and ate our food in the presence of an annoying seagull, who was not getting my sympathies.
All in all, it was a really great day trip and one I would gladly do again! Next time, I want to walk all the way to the lighthouse and see the end of the South Downes Trail. I’ll be back.
For more pictures from my day trip, check out my Instagram, @liv.mcdonald. What are your favorite hikes?