The Seven Sisters Cliffs walk is one of the best coastal walks in England. But even the best can be improved. Here’s a new route for Seven Sisters that captures the best of the area.

The undulating chalk cliffs along the Seven Sisters walk have been immortalised in popular media and firmly established as iconic English scenery.

And for good reason. Pristine white cliffs wedged between rolling rural farmland on one side and the English Channel on the other, form one of the most scenic walks in the country. It’s scenic enough to rival the beauty of the Jurassic Coast. With a blanket of green grass on top, the glow of the sea below, and the luminance of the cliffs blazing in front, the light at Seven Sisters is spellbinding. Even a moody English day can’t dampen the lustre of this popular place.  

Most people who ply the Seven Sisters cliffs walk finish at Eastbourne. But – nothing against Eastbourne, which we’re sure is a lovely town – there’s a much better way to do the walk.

Rather than disrupting the sublime scenery and rural feel, finish up in a quiet country pub set in a charming village where you can flick through your photos from the day while enjoying a well-deserved beer.

Here’s the best route for the Seven Sisters walk with public transport options, our pick of the best places to stay plus highlights to collect along the way.

SEVEN SISTERS CLIFFS WALK OVERVIEW


SUMMARY

An excellent walk undulating over towering chalk cliffs

DISTANCE

Seaford to Eastbourne 21.5km; Seaford to East Dean 17.7km

TIME

7 hours with stops to Eastbourne, 6 hours to East Dean

ELEVATION

Total of between 350m and 450m of ascent and descent

DIFFICULTY

Medium – Nothing challenging but long

HIKERS

Mark & Paul

HIGHLIGHTS ON THE SEVEN SISTERS WALK

The Seven Sister’s walk is one of the best coastal paths in the country. But, even an iconic area like this one has a few standouts. Here are some of our highlights on the walk.

SEVEN SISTERS

The Seven Sisters cliffs stretch out in an undulating row from Cuckmere Haven to Birling Gap. This is the most dramatic and picturesque section of the walk. Take your time soaking up the beautiful scenery of waves of white cliffs topped with a carpet of lush green grass.

CUCKMERE RIVER

Overlooking the Cuckmere River, the Coastguard cottages provide the perfect foreground for photographing the Seven Sisters cliffs. From just above the cottages on the path, the cliffs are perfectly compressed into a breath-taking scene. Just below the cottages, the mouth of the river provides a great spot to explore the cliffs up close. However, don’t get too close. As the cliffs retreat around 30 centimetres each year, large chunks are prone to falling off.


BEACHY HEAD LIGHTHOUSE

The Beachy Head lighthouse, with its bold red and white livery cuts a striking scene against the azure water of the English Channel and the bright cliff faces. The best vantage point is on approach; however, you can also continue further along the path and get views back to it from the area adjacent to the RAF Memorial.

EAST DEAN TRAIL

Leaving the coastal path between Birling Gap and Beachy Head, the short walk into the village of East Dean is a lovely part of the hike. Amble past rolling green countryside with the English Channel framing the scene. Stop for lunch or a pint at the Tiger Inn.


The views are better heading from west to east. In order to collect the highlights of the walk, we recommend starting at the Esplanade in Seaford. From there, climb 50 meters to the summit of the glistening chalk facades to join the South Downs Way, before passing a perfectly positioned golf course.

Continue along the undulating path over the cliff tops towards the coastguard cottages at Cuckmere Haven. After enjoying this photogenic spot, drop down to the beach at the Cuckmere River just behind the cottages. Explore the tidal rock pools and examine the chalk cliffs from below – but don’t get too close.

At high tide, walk up the river to the Cuckmere Inn, cross over a bridge and then head back down the other side to the beach. At low tide, the river can be crossed at the beach either by wading across barefoot, or by using a pair of parallel logs laying across the mouth. Crossing at the mouth of the river saves a 40-minute detour upstream.


On the other side of the river, climb back up to the South Downs Way Trail and count the seven sisters as they rise and fall over undulating grassy banks. At the National Trust café in Birling Gap, head onto the small beach where you can take a swim.

From Birling Gap, continue up past the Belle Tout Lighthouse and drop down the other side until views of the red and white Beachy Head lighthouse appear.

At this point there are two choices:

OPTION 1

Return the way you came a short distance and take the path inland to East Dean; or

OPTION 2

Continue along the tops to Eastbourne

We highly recommend taking the first option to East Dean. The walk into Eastbourne is longer and from Birling Gap, the views start to get a little less good. It also finishes with a tedious slog through the town of Eastbourne.

The shorter route to East Dean ambles through sheep-strewn fields and ends in the charming village where you can stop for a pint at the Tiger Inn. This is a better finish to the Seven Sisters walk than standing at the bus stop on the modern shopping mall in Eastbourne.  


HOW TO GET TO THE SEVEN SISTERS CLIFF WALK

We recommend starting the Seven Sisters walk from Seaford Esplanade. With great transport links in the area, the walk can easily be completed as a day trip from London or Brighton. Here’s how to get to the start of the trail.

CAR / If you have your own car, park at the Seaford Esplanade car park, exactly where we start this walk. The car park is open 24 hours a day and it’s free of charge for up to 12 hours.  

BUS / The 12, 12X and 12A buses run between Brighton and Eastbourne stopping off at Seaford. There are regular services throughout the day. It’s a ten-minute walk from the Seaford Library bus stop to the start of the trail at the Esplanade.

TRAIN / If you are coming directly from London, catch the train from London Victoria to Seaford which has one stop in Lewes. The train takes around 1 hour 20 minutes and it’s a 10-minute walk from the train station to the Esplanade car park.

HOW TO GET BACK FROM THE WALK

If you end the Seven Sisters cliff walk at East Dean, which we highly recommend, there is a regular bus which stops on the main road just a short walk from the Tiger Inn pub. The 12, 12A or 12X buses stop roughly every 20 minutes and can get you to Eastbourne, Brighton or back to Seaford.

If you end at Eastbourne, you can get the train back to London from Eastbourne Station. There is a direct train to London Victoria which takes 1 hour and 30 minutes. Alternatively, catch the 12, 12A or 12C bus back to Seaford or Brighton.

All the bus stops are marked on our map below.

BRITAIN / ALL OUR BRITAIN ARTICLES

WHERE TO FUEL UP ON THE SEVEN SISTERS WALK

The best thing about enjoying the Seven Sisters cliffs on this walk is being outdoors in such a beautiful part of England. We recommend packing a picnic and having lunch on the grassy hills overlooking the sea. But, if you need a stop along the way, or at the end, here’s what is on offer.

CUCKMERE INN / If you’re undertaking the walk at high tide and not able to cross the Cuckmere River, you’ll need to walk up past the Cuckmere Inn to go around it. They have a nice deck overlooking the river which is the perfect place for a beer. We didn’t eat here but it looked like standard pub grub.

BIRLING GAP CAFE / The National Trust café at Birling Gap has quite possibly the worst coffee we have ever tasted. However, their cakes were fine enough if you need a bit of a sugar hit and the toilets could come at a convenient time.

EAST DEAN / In the village of East Dean where we finish the Seven Sisters cliff walk, there are two options for refuelling while you flick through the plethora of photos you probably took on the walk. The Tiger Inn is a classic pub with a wide selection of ales and a fantastic beer garden. The Hiker’s Rest café does coffee, cakes, sandwiches and quiches.

BEACHY HEAD INN / Located just opposite the lighthouse, the Beachy Head Inn has a huge menu of standard pub food with not much on offer for vegetarians. It’s not our type of place but it’s well located if you need a pitstop.


WHERE TO STAY

The Seven Sisters walk can easily be done on a day trip from London or Brighton on public transport. However, there are more appealing ways to wind down after the walk than commuting home. With some great locations maximising the coast or the lovely rural setting just inland, turn your Seven Sisters adventure into a weekend.

BUDGET / EAST DEAN

TIGER INN

Have an authentic rural sleep right where you finish the walk at the Tiger Inn in East Dean. Enjoy a hearty breakfast, friendly hosts and an excellent country location.

HOTELS.COM / BOOKING.COM

MEDIUM / ALFRISTON

WINGROVE HOUSE

Enjoy the charming village of Alfriston from the beautiful setting of Wingrove House with comfy beds, jazzy bathrooms and riverside location.

HOTELS.COM / BOOKING.COM

STYLE / EAST DEAN

SALTMARSH FARMHOUSE

Book a luxury staycation in this small 16th century farmhouse with stylish suits, relaxing spaces and quality food inspired by the forest and the ocean.

HOTELS.COM / BOOKING.COM

Seven Sisters Cliffs

MAP / SEVEN SISTERS CLIFFS WALK

The Seven Sisters walk follows the coast, so it couldn’t be more straight forward. Our map lists the bus stops, pubs along the way and our detour off the coastal path to finish up in the village of East Dean.


WHERE NEXT?

First, if you found this useful, please follow us on Instagram.

If you are inspired to visit the Seven Sisters, all our writing about the area is on our Britain page.

The southern coast of England is blessed with some truly beautiful areas. Here are some of our articles from the area::

WEEKEND ON THE JURASSIC COAST
BEST WALKS IN DORSET
LULWORTH COVE TO DURDLE DOOR HIKE

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