An Unforgettable Day Trip to The Seven Sisters

Day trip to the Seven Sisters Guide

 

There is no shortage of fun things to do in London but every now and again it’s nice to escape the city for the day. Thanks to its location, there are lots of great day trips from London which are less than 2 hours away. One such place is the Seven Sisters Country Park. I’d wanted to do a day trip to the Seven Sisters ever since I saw photos of the dramatic white chalk cliffs.

I finally managed to go in February this year and hiked the 22 km trail over the 7 famous English cliffs from Seaford to Eastbourne. The hike was challenging in places but the scenery was spectacular. 

If you haven’t already been, then a day trip to the Seven Sisters should definitely be on your bucket list. In this post you’ll find all the information you need to help you plan your own day trip to the Seven Sisters.

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Day trip to the Seven Sisters

Hiking the Seven Sisters

Summary

A stunning coastal hike over the Seven Sisters, starting in Seaford and ending in Eastbourne. Highlights include Cuckmere Haven, Belle Tout Lighthouse, and Beachy Head.

Distance

21.9km (13.6 miles)

Time

4 – 7 hours

Difficulty

Moderate to difficult

A day trip to the Seven Sisters

The Seven Sisters are a series of dramatic chalk cliffs which overlook the English Channel. The trail from Seaford to Eastbourne is one of the prettiest coastal walks in England. As the name suggests, there are seven hills (‘sisters’) as well as a few smaller hills on each side of the Sisters. 

The views are incredible as you ascend and descend over each hill. It is a long hike and can be demanding in places if you haven’t done a lot of hill walking in the past. The full walk is just over 13 miles long; however, there are a few shorter walks you can do instead. I’ve listed these options out later in the article along with places to stop and eat.

You’ll find all the information you need to help you plan your own day trip to the Seven Sisters at the end of this article. This includes how to get there, safety information, and a map of the route. 

Seaford to Cuckmere Haven

The walk begins in Seaford, a small seaside town with a pebbly beach and a long promenade lined with colourful huts. Walking from Seaford to Eastbourne is the more popular direction as the views are better and it is quicker to reach the cliffs. 

From the station, head to the seafront and walk along the promenade until you reach the grassy mounds of the cliffs. Over the next 22 km you’ll climb up and down the ‘Sisters’. The views from the cliffs are spectacular; the lush green countryside is on your left and the blue waters of the English Channel are on your right.

After about 45 minutes, you’ll reach Cuckmere Haven Beach. The path descends down to the beach and on the way you’ll pass the iconic Coastguard Cottages. The backdrop of the dramatic white chalk cliffs has made this one of the most photographed views in the UK. 

The cottages were built in the 1820s for the coastguards who were stationed there to stop smugglers. They have been featured in several films, including Atonement with Keira Knightley and James McAvoy. This is where their characters dreamed of living after the war and is where they filmed the final scene.

Coastguard Cottages Seven Sisters
Cuckmere Haven Beach
Cuckmere Haven is where the river meets the English Channel. It meanders through the grasslands out to sea, dividing the beach into two. Dont miss the chance to photograph the iconic Coastguard Cottages overlooking the beach.

Cuckmere Haven to Birling Gap

At low tide you may be able to walk across the shallower parts on the beach to the cliffs on the other side. However, you will most likely have to walk inland through the grasslands to The Cuckmere Inn. It is a bit of a diversion but it is a lovely walk along the meandering river and the oxbow lakes.

Cross over the bridge and walk back down the other side of the river towards the grassy cliffs. As you climb up on to the South Downs Way, don’t forget to look back for a beautiful view of Cuckmere Haven.

After about 50 minutes you will reach Birling Gap. Here you’ll find a cafe and the National Trust information centre. A lot of visitors park here and do a shorter version of the walk so you will find it is a busy stretch. As you climb back up the cliffs you may see some wild ponies grazing on the grass if you are lucky. 

Cuckmere Haven Seven Sisters
Day trip to the Seven Sisters
Birling Gap is a busy section of the hike as many people choose to start or end here. Its a great spot to get some food and use the facilities. There are often wild ponies grazing along the path.

Cuckmere Haven to Beachy Head

After one final big climb you’ll reach the Belle Tout Lighthouse. The lighthouse has a fascinating history; it was decommissioned in 1902 and bought by the BBC in 1986 for a mini TV series before being featured in the James Bond film, The Living Daylights. 

In 1996 the lighthouse became a family home but in 1999 the whole lighthouse had to be moved away from the cliff edge due to the threat of erosion. Today the lighthouse has been converted into a unique B&B and offers guests incredible views of the landscape.

Continue walking and you will see the second lighthouse in front of you at the bottom of the cliffs. With its red and white stripes, Beachy Head Lighthouse looks like it has jumped straight out of a children’s book. It is a great spot to stop and rest and take some lovely photos of the lighthouse against the backdrop of the white cliffs. 

A Day trip to the Seven Sisters

Beachy Head to Eastbourne

There is a car park at Beachy Head so a lot of people will head back to their cars after seeing the lighthouse and you’ll find the final stretch to Eastbourne is very quiet, apart from people walking in the opposite direction. 

After walking for almost 5 hours, this final section can be quite hard. It is a steep walk downhill to Eastbourne and when you get down to the promenade it is still a 25 minute walk to the train station. I remember feeling like I would never reach the station as my legs were so tired! Once you get there find a nice little pub and have a drink and a bite to eat before heading back to London – you will definitely be ready for some food after the long hike!

Day Trip from London to Seven Sisters
You can do the walk in reverse from Eastbourne to Seaford but the hills are gentler if you start in Seaford. The views are also more impressive as you head towards Eastbourne so I recommend walking from Seaford to Eastbourne.

Planning a day trip to the Seven Sisters

 

How to get to the Seven Sisters from London

Located less than 2 hours from London, the Seven Sisters Country Park is easily accessible by public transport or by car. If you opt to go by train, I would recommend booking a single ticket to Seaford and another single ticket back from Eastbourne – unless you want to walk another 22 km back to Seaford!

 
By train

London to Seaford: Trains run twice an hour from London Bridge to Lewes where you will need to change for Seaford. It takes just over 1 hour 30 minutes in total. You can also take the train from London Blackfriars to Brighton and change there for Seaford. This is a slightly longer route (2 hours 18 minutes) but may be easier depending on where you live. Check times and prices here

Eastbourne to LondonAfter a long hike you’ll be pleased to know that you can catch a direct train back to London Bridge! Trains run twice an hour and the journey only takes 1 hour 30 minutes. Check times and prices here

I book all of my train tickets on The Train Line as it’s easy to compare train times, journey lengths and prices for trips like this. You can look into tickets and check if there are any planned engineering works on their website.

 
By bus

From Brighton, you can catch the #12/ 12A/ 12X bus to Seaford. They run every 10 minutes Monday to Saturday (every 15 minutes on Sunday) during the day. 

The #13X bus also runs the same route but detours along the coastal road and stops at Birling Gap and Beachy Head. For more information on these buses, see Brighton & Hove Buses or call 01273 886200.

 

By car

As the hike starts in Seaford and ends in Eastbourne, if you decide to drive you’ll need to walk all the way back to the starting point. I’d suggest doing one of the shorter hikes. You could park at Birling Gap and walk to Cuckmere Haven and back which is a lovely alternative.

If like me, you don’t have your own car, hiring one can sometimes be a dreaded task. I personally use Auto Europe as it’s really easy to use. You can compare the prices for different car sizes by provider. If you need any help, their 24/7 customer service is very good. Click below to check prices in your home currency. 

From the UK and Europe – Book here

From the US – Book here

Seven Sisters UK
Horses at Seven Sisters UK

WHERE TO STAY AT SEVEN SISTERS CLIFFS

The Seven Sisters is a great day trip from London but it can be a long day. If you don’t fancy commuting back to London after your hike, turn your day trip into a weekend break. Here are a few lovely places to stay in Eastbourne. 

Booking your trip: If you book your trip via my hotel links I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you, which helps me keep this blog running. Thanks for your support – Steph.

The View Hotel

Located on the main promenade, the View Hotel is a great choice if you’re planning to stay in Eastbourne. Most rooms have balconies which overlook the English Channel. The restaurant has stunning beach views and the bar has a lovely terrace. 

The Grand Hotel

The RAC described it as “England’s finest resort hotel”. Whilst that may not be totally true, if you’re looking to splurge a little, the Grand Hotel promises a luxurious stay. There are two award-winning restaurants, a comprehensive health club, and an indoor and outdoor pool. 

Ritz Apartments

If you’re visiting the Seven Sisters with your family or a group of friends, OTTO – Seaside Apartment is a good option. It has one bedroom, a living room with two sofa beds, and a kitchen area. It’s simple but very comfortable and makes a great base.

Day Trip to Seven Sisters

Shorter Hike Options

If you don’t want to walk the full 13 miles but still want to do a day trip to the Seven Sisters, there are a few alternative routes using the local buses. 

 
Seaford to Exceat (6.2km / 3.9 miles)

This shorter hike still provides beautiful view of the Seven Sisters without walking over them. When you reach Cuckmere Haven, head towards The Cuckmere Inn and get the bus back to Seaford or to Eastbourne. 

 
Seaford to Birling Gap (12.7km / 7.9 miles)

If the #13X bus is operating, you can walk over the Seven Sisters and finish the hike at Birling Gap. Enjoy a cup of tea and some lunch here before getting the bus back to Seaford or to Eastbourne. 

 
Seaford to East Dean (15km / 9.3 miles)

If you want to go to Birling Gap but the #13X bus is not running, you can opt for this route instead. It is a bit longer as you have to walk inland from Birling Gap to East Dean. Here you can get the #12 bus service to Eastbourne or back to Seaford. 

 
Exceat to Beachy Head (10.4km / 6.4 miles)

When the #13X bus is running, this is a great alternative which allows you to walk along the prettiest stretch of the Seven Sisters. Get the bus from Seaford to Exceat and walk to Beachy Head. You can then take the #13X from Beachy Head back to Seaford or to Eastbourne.

Seven Sisters Day Trip Hike
The cliffs are incredibly beautiful but resist the urge to get too close to the edge as some sections are eroding and are not safe to walk on. Respect the signs and be sensible.

Practical Information

Hiking the Seven Sisters is a long hike and it is demanding in places so make sure you are fully prepared before you set off:

  • There is a lot of uphill and downhill walking. Some sections are quite steep and can be slippery. Make sure you are wearing comfortable trainers or hiking boots with good grip.
  • Check the weather before you go and dress appropriately. Layer up and take a light coat as you will probably get hot along the way but the winds can make it quite chilly on the top of the cliffs.
  • Take some sunscreen as even on cloudy days you can catch the sun. It is a long hike so it is best to be prepared for all kinds of weather.
  • Take lots of water and snacks. There are places to buy food along the way but they are few and far between so it is better to go prepared.
 

Please be very careful near the cliff edges as there have been many rock falls due to erosion. Some parts have been cordoned off for safety so respect the signs and don’t get too close to the edge.

Route Map

Here is a map of the full route from Seaford to Eastbourne, including the detour to The Cuckmere Inn which you may have to walk along if the tide is in. 

I’ve also marked The Cuckmere Inn and the National Trust Cafe at Birling Gap on the map. These are great places to stop for something to eat and to use the facilities before continuing on the hike. 

To save this map, click on the star on the right hand side of the title. This will save the map to “Your Places” in the Google Maps.

The Seven Sisters Country Park is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt parts of the English coast and the cliffs are one of Britain’s most iconic landmarks. I hope this post inspires you to plan your own day trip to the Seven Sisters.

If you’re looking for more things to do in and around London this summer, have a look at the following UK guides:

 

If you have any questions about this hike please let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them. 

LOVE FROM STEPH
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Seven Sisters UK
The Seven Sisters Cliffs England

7 thoughts on “An Unforgettable Day Trip to The Seven Sisters”

  1. Hi Steph, excellent write-up. Very helpful and informative.
    I’m planning to visit next week. I was wondering if it would be possible to divide the walk between Eastbourne and Seaford in half and stay overnight somwhere in between? Would you recommend that? Thanks!

    1. Hi Divya,
      I’m glad you found it helpful! It’s one of my favourite walks in the UK so I hope the weather stays nice for your trip next week. You can split the walk into two but there aren’t any places to stay along the route itself. Your best bet would be to take a little detour once you get to Birling Gap and go to East Dean for the night. It’s about a 20 minute walk from Birling Gap but is a quaint little village. If they have availability then The Tiger Inn is a good place to stay for the night. They have a restaurant and free wi-fi too.

      You can also stay in the Belle Tout Lighthouse which is a very unique spot – but they usually book up very quickly. I hope you manage to find somewhere!

      Steph

    1. Hi Jan, I’m glad to hear that it was helpful! Seaford to Birling Gap is a great walk, especially with kids. I was definitely ready to sit down and relax by the time I made it to Eastbourne – it’s a very long way!

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