Tag Archives: seven sisters

Wandering: Over Seaford Head

3 Mar

I have been looking forward to this walk for a couple of weeks, no I tell a lie, I have been looked forward to repeating this walk since June 2010 when I last did it (although it was the other way round last time).

The weather conditions were much better back then, a little under two years ago it was a little hazy to start, but soon the sun came out and the conditions were glorious. Today we began with fog and rain and only much later did the weather begin to improve, but by then it was too late and we were on our way home.

Today’s walk was quite a short walk really, less than five miles, but conditions underfoot were less than ideal (yes, I did end up sitting in the mud on more than one occasion) which surprised me because we have been short of rain recently.

The walk started at Exceat Bridge in East Sussex (between Seaford and Eastbourne) and my wife and I followed the course of the Cuckmere River to the sea (this was the muddiest part of the walk) and we then headed west towards the town of Seaford. Because the tide was out the first part of this was along the foot of the cliffs, before ascending the steps at Hope Gap and continuing across the top of the cliffs and over Seaford Head, before descending into the town of Seaford.

The Seven Sisters, near Eastbourne, East Sussex (3rd March 2012)

The coastline in this part of the world is a truly incredible place to explore, even in the less than perfect conditions like today. We slowly picked our way along the foot of the cliffs (although not too close) and marvelled not just at the immense chalk cliffs, but also the variety of shells and stone scattered across the shore. From huge boulders of chalk with layers of flint running through them to the tiny little shells that litter the shore, it is a scene that must change every day as the tides work their magic.

Seagulls over the cliffs (3rd March 2012)

The cliffs are impressive in their scale, but once the sun comes out they take on an extra magic when their greyness is replaced by a dazzling whiteness, as seen below when we were descending into Seaford.

Seaford, East Sussex (3rd March 2012)

We spent a while in Seaford, perhaps an hour or so, certainly longer than I have spent before. I have ancestors from Seaford and of course Patrick Vaughan and his Canadian comrades were at Seaford during the First World War, so it is a place that I ought to explore further. However that wasn’t to be today, as the museum (in the wonderful Martello Tower) wasn’t open and the library is currently in temporary accommodation whilst a new one is being built.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Postcard Album: The Seven Sisters

26 Aug

It has been a while since I last walked across the landscape below and I am thinking that the approaching bank holiday might give me the perfect opportunity to do so once again.

There are lots of other things I probably ought to be doing, but the weather forecast is looking quite good and I feel I need to get out on my own and just walk. Unfortunately there are lots of other places I would like to explore so I may not make it back again this weekend.

The caption says this view is of The Seven Sisters (the line of chalk cliffs stretching across the card) but it also shows Seaford Head in the foreground, which is probably not quite as famous, although the Coastguard Cottages which are just off to the left of the picture have appeared in many photos and paintings (not sure if I have them on a postcard though).

The picture itself doesn’t provide any clues to the age of this postcard and it has not been used, so the only clue as to its age is the name of the publisher, F. A. Bourne of Langley Road, Eastbourne, which is printed on the back. If I had to put a date on it then I would have said early 1920s, but I could easily be a decade out either way.

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.

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

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.

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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