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How To Do The Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk from Birling Gap to Eastbourne + Map

How To Do The Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk from Birling Gap to Eastbourne + Map

The Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk from Birling Gap to Eastbourne in East Sussex is spectacular. Views stretching far along the white chalk cliffs include that of the iconic red and white Beachy Head Lighthouse.

Often mistaken for the White Cliffs of Dover in Kent, these seven beauties are nestled in the Seven Sisters Country Park and surrounded by lush Sussex countryside. So, if you are looking for the perfect place to go for a stunning coastal walk, this is it!

In this post, you will find everything you need to know about walking the Seven Sisters Cliffs.

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Stone beach with green water and white cliffs at Birling Gap which is the start of the Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk.

Visiting the Seven Sisters Cliffs

A visit to the Seven Sisters Cliffs is a must. The 6.5km clifftop trail follows the South Downs Way from Birling Gap to Eastbourne. During the walk, you’ll spot the Belle Tout Lighthouse, the iconic Beachy Head Lighthouse and the Royal Air Force Memorial. The walk will finish in the charming seaside town of Eastbourne.

How long is the Sisters Walk?

The Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk is part of the 160km South Downs Way in the South Downs National Park. It will take approximately 2 hours with no stops (4 hours for the circular walk). This walk along the Sussex Heritage Coast is quite easily one of the UK’s most beautiful coastal walks.

How to get to Seven Sisters Cliffs from London

By Train: London Victoria to Eastbourne takes approximately 1hr 30 mins. The number 13X bus or a taxi will take you the rest of the way. A good app to check train routes and prices is Trainline.

By Car: Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk Parking is in the National Trust Car Park (pay and display). Beachy Head Rd, Eastbourne BN20 0AB.

By Bus: Number 13X from Eastbourne Pier or the train station will take you to Birling Gap.

Or why not reverse the walk and start the Seven Sisters Walk in Eastbourne? After finishing at the Birling Gap, you can catch the bus back to Eastbourne. Check bus times before your journey, as they are less frequent in winter.

Or why not join a tour from London of the Seven Sisters and the surrounding countryside? A wonderful way to discover everything the South Downs has to offer with a tour guide.

Green Birling Gap Pay and Display Car Park sign

Tips for walking the Seven Sisters Cliffs

These crumbling cliffs are kept white due to the constant effect of erosion. DO NOT go near the edge during the Seven Sisters cliffs walk, no matter how good you think the photographs will be!

Dress for the occasion with good flat walking shoes and the right clothes for the season.

It can be sweltering in summer, and sunburn can occur, so wear a high factor sunblock and a hat.

In the winter, it can be wet and extremely windy – again, DO NOT go near the cliff edge in this kind of weather and wear warm, waterproof clothing.

View from cliff edge of a red and white striped lighthouse visible along the Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk.
Beachy Head Lighthouse

Facilities on the Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk

Toilets can be found at the National Trust Visitor Centre, by the tearooms in the car park. Make sure to use them before you set off on your walk!

If you need a stop on the route, try The Beachy Head pub for lunch.

If walking has built up your appetite, try Qualisea in Eastbourne for traditional fish and chips.

National Trust Tea Rooms

Where to stay near Seven Sisters Country Park

The Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk is great to do on a day trip from London, but if it has tired you out, here are some of the best hotels in Eastbourne for an overnight stay.

One of the best seafront hotels is the charming Port Hotel. It is a boutique property offering beautifully styled rooms with views of the ocean or the rambling South Downs.

Seven Sisters Cliffs Map

The Seven Sisters walk ends by the Italian Gardens on Eastbourne’s promenade seafront; however, I have mapped the route back to Eastbourne train station to show distances.

Where to start the Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk

The Seven Sisters Cliffs walk to Eastbourne starts in the Birling Gap National Trust car park. Look for steps beside the red telephone box by the row of coastguard cottages and make your ascent onto the cliff path.

You may want to spend some time on the Birling Gap pebble beach before or after your walk, so pack your beachwear!

Four cottages on the headland above a pebble beach at the start of the Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk.
Coastguard Cottages at Birling Gap

Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk Route

Continue along the cliff path to “The Lookout”, and you will find Belle Tout Lighthouse. It dates back to 1832 and was partially destroyed in the war but lovingly restored in the 1950s. It is now privately owned and one of the most unique lighthouses to stay in the UK, offering spectacular views out to sea.

The walk up to the lighthouse is quite strenuous; however, if you are a guest, you can drive straight into Belle Tout from the road.

Belle Tout has been called “Britain’s most famous inhabited lighthouse” for several reasons.

Firstly, because of its striking location and use in films and television such as Harry Potter and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Secondly, in 1999, due to continuing erosion threatening the future of the building, the lighthouse was moved 17 metres (56 feet) back from the cliff edge. 

Concrete old looking lighthouse on the brow of a hill on the Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk.
Turquoise and jade sea flanked by white chalk cliffs viewed fromthe Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk.
The chalk from the cliffs gives the seawater a murky blue hue.

Spot the red and white striped Beachy Head Lighthouse

Leaving Belle Tout, you will immediately spot Beachy Head lighthouse.

Beachy Head is the most well-known place in East Sussex, but unfortunately, for the wrong reason.

This is the highest sea chalk cliff in England, rising to 530 feet (162 metres) at its highest point above sea level and is also one of the most notorious suicide spots in the world.

More than 500 people have died at Beachy Head since 1965, and a dedicated 24-hour Chaplaincy Team works tirelessly to help vulnerable people close to the edge. It is a sad reminder that an act of absolute desperation can occur in such a beautiful spot.

Beachy Head is the home to diverse wildlife, including gulls and many other species of birds, snakes, rabbits, badgers, foxes and my favourite – butterflies!

red and white lighthouse at sea viewed along the Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk.

The red and white striped Beachy Head lighthouse became operational in 1902 after decommissioning the original Belle Tout lighthouse.

It sits in the English Channel and, up until 1983, was manned by three lighthouse keepers. It now attracts photographers eager to capture the perfect lighthouse shot.

red and white lighthouse at sea viewed along the Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk.

Alternative Seven Sisters Cliffs Walks

If, at this point, the thought of walking to Eastbourne is too much for you, then maybe opt for the circular walk from Birling Gap to Beachy Head.

You will walk past Beachy Head lighthouse as far as the RAF bomber command memorial and then turn around. Retrace your steps back through the Horseshoe Plantation, an area of shrubland on the cliff path.

This 6.5km circular Seven Sisters walking route takes the same time as the one-way route to Eastbourne: 2 hours.

Royal Air Force Memorial at Beachy Head
Walking back to Belle Tout on the South Downs Coastal Path
Horseshoe Plantation
Birling Gap as viewed from the cliff path on the return walk.

Arriving in Eastbourne

If you are happy to continue to Eastbourne, there are another 2 miles to walk from Beachy Head. This should take you around 45 minutes.

Follow the pathway markers downwards, and you will eventually come out near the Italian Gardens in Eastbourne.

If you still have energy, why not walk along Eastbourne’s promenade to the 19th-century pier? It’s an iconic Eastbourne landmark I have been visiting since I was a child!

Eastbourne Pier at the finish of the Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk.

To extend your Seven Sisters hike to Eastbourne, you could start the route from the village of East Dean. This will make it a 10km walk and take approximately 4 hours. Please read more about the East Dean to Birling Gap Walk to see if it is right for you.

You could break up the walk halfway with refreshments at the Beachy Head Pub set on the rambling South Downs.

Whichever walking route you choose, make sure you add some extra time to take in the beautiful scenery.

On a sunny day, the magnificence of the white chalk cliffs and the aqua water is simply intoxicating. I am sure you will want to take many photos along the way, especially of the iconic red and white striped lighthouse at Beachy Head.

Seven Sisters Sunsets

You won’t be disappointed if you stay around for sunset. Whether in winter (as in this video) or summer, sitting on the cliffs or wandering along the beach is a sure winner to catch the most beautiful coastal sunsets in Sussex.

Explore beyond the Seven Sisters Walk

Discover Hidden Hindhead on the Devil’s Punch Bowl Walk in the Surrey Hills

Discover the Best of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve on the Easy Circular Walk or Cycle

Herstmonceux Castle and Gardens: A Great British Day Out in East Sussex

Please Pin for Future Travel to Sussex

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Sue

Monday 16th of November 2020

This looks like a really lovely walk & I have added it to my list. With current travel restrictions, I am always looking for places in the UK to visit. I have discovered there is an awful lot of this country that I haven't been to yet! This one is much closer to home so thanks for sharing!