Tag Archives: cliffs

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.

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Something Sussex: The Seven Sisters from Seaford Head

4 Nov

This view was taken by me on the 21st June 2010, the row of cliffs in the distance are the Seven Sisters and the path leads down from Seaford Head to Hope Gap, where a set of steps allow access to the shoreline.

This photo has been my desktop wallpaper since the day it was taken, but I think it is probably time I changed it now. Summer has well and truly passed and it is probably time to find something more seasonal (and I don’t mean dancing snowmen and bouncing Christmas puddings) to act as my wallpaper.

This picture embodies so many happy memories for me. Although this wasn’t part of my South Downs Way walk, it is part of the South Downs and the South Downs Way does run across the top of the Seven Sisters. My enduring memories of 2010 will be of my time spent walking the South Downs, making the most of my unemployment.

The walk on 21st June was quite a short walk, probably only four or five miles in distance and only a few hours in the afternoon. The weather started out quite dull, but the sun came out as I started to climb up hill away from the town of Seaford, East Sussex and it was absolutely stunning to see the white chalk cliffs shining brilliantly in the sunshine.

I spent probably an hour or so at the foot of the cliffs, picking my way among the rock pools, searching for unusual stones and looking up in awe at the towering cliffs. It was really interesting to see the cliffs up close (although not getting too close), it was like seeing a cross-section through the hills that I had spent so much time walking upon.

Picture Postcard Parade: Beachy Head Lighthouse, Eastbourne

7 May

The lighthouse at Beachy Head just to the west of the town of Eastbourne, East Sussex is a well known and well photographed landmark. Naturally there is no shortage of postcards of the lighthouse and the cliffs, but this one is probably one of the finest I have seen.

Beachy Head Lighthouse, Eastbourne

This postcard was published by Valentines, but I don’t know when, probably around 1910-20. The postcard has a divided back, which dates it after 1902, which doesn’t really help because that is when the lighthouse was constructed.

This lighthouse was built as a replacement for an earlier lighthouse which stood up on the cliff top (rather than at sea level) and slightly further to the west at Belle Tout. The lighthouse was automated in 1983 and still warns off shipping, at the same time as attracting hundreds of sightseers to the cliffs above.

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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