Tag Archives: birling gap

Wandering: South Downs Way – Eastbourne to Exceat

7 May

A little over a year since I started walking the South Downs Way I was back in Eastbourne, East Sussex starting it all over again. This time I was accompanied by my wife, who has decided that she would also like to walk the South Downs Way (SDW) this year. This year I had planned to take a week off work and walk the route in one go, but for now we will be walking it together over several months.

The route is now quite familiar to me, I have only walked it a few times but have revisited it in my mind and in my digital photo albums many times. I won’t go into the details of the route here, beyond the basics: head west from Eastbourne up onto the hills, across Beachy Head, past Belle Tout lighthouse, drop down to the National Trust cafe and bar at Birling Gap, up to the start of the Seven Sisters, up and down the Seven Sisters several times and finally down to the Cuckmere River and along to Exceat.

Weather conditions were generally good for walking, probably more a little more sunshine than cloud with a few very light (and brief) showers. All in all it was a good walk, the Seven Sisters didn’t cause me any real problems and although my legs and feet were tired they soon recovered.

I hope to try to make this walk of the first section of the South Downs Way an annual occurrence, at least for as long as I am capable of completing it. For now though I will leave you with a few photos.

Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters, East Sussex (7th May 2011)

Seaford Head and Cuckmere Haven, East Sussex (7th May 2011)

The obligatory trig point photo - Cliff End trig point, Seven Sisters, East Sussex (7th May 2011)

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

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Postcard Album: Birling Gap and Seven Sisters

5 May

This has nothing to do with family history, but lots to do with walking. This is a view of Birling Gap and Seven Sisters on the East Sussex coast, between Seaford and Eastbourne.

I have no idea who published this card and it is not particularly old. It was posted from Eastbourne, Sussex on the 9th August 1934 and sent to a Miss Jeffery in Maidstone, Kent. The message is probably quite typical of thousands of postcards sent from the South Coast every summer:

Am having a glorious time. The weather has been good to-day & Sunday. A bit patchy otherwise getting quite brown. Have been to some shows, played tennis, been to Hampden Park & to-day went to Beachy Head. It was glorious up there. Took some snaps, hope they’re alright.

As such it is not a particularly remarkable or outstanding postcard, but it finds a place in my collection because it reminds me of the handful of times that I have walked across the top of the cliffs.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

More wandering, starting the South Downs Way

27 Apr

As if walking the North Downs Way wasn’t enough, I have started walking the South Downs Way (SDW) as well. I say started, but I don’t know when I shall finish, or indeed when I shall walk the next part, but I have at least made a start.

Start of the South Downs Way

The photo above shows the start (or end) of the SDW, in Eastbourne, East Sussex. It is right on the western edge of the town, and is about 1½ miles from the railway station mainly through residential streets.

I have decided to do this walk alone, in fact it was partly the solitude and time to think that I wanted to experience and was my reason for starting today. It also means that I can go at my own speed and stop at places of interest on the way, without having to worry about inconveniencing anyone else. I know that when I get further west I will be in ancestral territory and my pace will no doubt slow down dramatically.

This first section was according to the guide book 7½ miles, from Eastbourne to Exceat, by way of Beachy Head, Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters. I have been to all these places before, but have never walked them all in one go.

There is so much history in this landscape. From prehistory to the Second World War. The cliff top at Beachy Head is littered with monuments and other features that attest to this rich history.

My pace today wasn’t particularly fast, partly because I haven’t done much serious walking yet this year, but mainly because I kept stopping the take photos. I had forgotten how beautiful and striking the landscape was. The photo below is of one of the most striking features, Beachy Head lighthouse.

Beachy Head Lighthouse

Birling Gap is a small group of buildings that have gathered around an access point to the beach. The buildings are gradually disappearing into the sea as the cliffs slowly erode, but whilst they remain they act as a honey pot to tourists and visitors to the coast.

Heading west from Birling Gap are the Seven Sisters, a range of cliffs with which I have something of a love-hate relationship. I love the challenge of tackling the rise and fall of the hills, and admire the fabulous views, but once I get started I usually regret it, when my legs start to complain. Every year they seem to get steeper!

Seven Sisters

The best views are of course not from the Sisters themselves, but from Birling Gap (shown above) or Seaford Head (on the far left of the photo). It is possible (although I am not sure that it is advisable) at low tide to walk along the foot of the cliffs.

Last year after my holiday in South Devon I thought that the Sussex coastline was quite dull in comparison to that of South Devon, but today I have changed my mind. I think I have definitely fallen in love with chalk!

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