The Seven Sisters Cliffs are an iconic stretch of coastline in southern England where glistening white cliffs drop into the azure ocean. Here is our guide for capturing the best viewpoints and the best walk.

The steep chalk cliffs that undulate along the Seven Sisters Cliffs are 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 coastal views in the country, rivalling even 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.  

Many of the views can be seen after a quick stroll from the car. However, one of the best ways to take in the splendour of the area is by walking the Seven Sisters path. The most popular route is from Seaford to Eastbourne, however, we have an alternate route that collects the best views of the Seven Sisters cliffs, but finishes in a small rural village. Here you can have a well-deserved beer in a cosy atmospheric pub while flicking through your winning shots.

Here is our guide for seeing the best of the Seven Sisters cliffs, with public transport options, the best viewpoints, where to stay plus all the highlights along the way.


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Beachy Head Lighthouse beside the Seven Sisters Cliffs
/ JUMP AHEAD
THE SEVEN SISTERS
CUCKMERE HAVEN
BEACHY HEAD LIGHTHOUSE
BELLE TOUTE LIGHTHOUSE
EAST DEAN
SEVEN SISTERS WALK
HOW TO GET THERE
RESTAURANTS & CAFES
WHERE TO STAY
SEVEN SISTERS MAP

BEST VIEWPOINTS AT THE SEVEN SISTERS CLIFFS

The Seven Sister Cliffs is one of the most scenic coastal regions in England. But, even an iconic area like this one has a few standouts. Here are some of the highlights at Seven Sisters along with the best way to see them.

THE SEVEN SISTERS

The Seven Sisters cliffs is the name given to the undulating row of chalk cliffs that stretch out from Cuckmere Haven to Birling Gap. This is the most dramatic and picturesque section, and a beautiful spot to sit and enjoy the scenery. Take your time soaking up the spectacle of waves of white cliffs topped with a carpet of lush green grass that undulates over each of the Seven Sisters.

The easiest way to see the Seven Sisters Cliffs is by parking at the Birling Gap car park.

COASTGUARD COTTAGES AT CUCKMERE HAVEN

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.

The nearest car park to the coastguard cottages is South Hill Barn Car Park. From here, it’s a 20-minute walk to the mouth of the river where the cottages are located.

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 from the walk from Seaford (see below for details). Alternatively, continue further along the path and get views back to it from the area adjacent to the RAF Memorial. It’s one of the iconic images on the Seven Sisters walk.

The most accessible car park to view the Beachy Head lighthouse is Shooter Bottom Car Park; a 5-minute walk to the lighthouse.

BELLE TOUTE LIGHTHOUSE

The Belle Toute Lighthouse was built in 1832 but heavily damaged during the war. After a refurbishment in the 1950’s it was purchased by the BBC who used in several television programmes and, later the James Bond movie The Living Daylights. A Channel 5 programme tracked it’s current conversion into a luxury bed and breakfast.

It’s possible to stay in the Belle Toute Lighthouse in one of the nautical-inspired rooms, or you can view it along the Seven Sisters walk. However, if you are collecting the sights by car, the closest car park to the Belle Toute Lighthouse is the Birling Gap car park.

TIGER INN PUB AT EAST DEAN

A great way to end the day is at the Tiger Inn Pub. Between Birling Gap and Beachy Head, a trail leaves the coastal path and heads into the village of East Dean. It’s a lovely stroll past rolling green rural countryside with the English Channel framing the scene. In East Dean, the Tiger Inn has a large grassy beer garden which makes the perfect end-point if you do our Seven Sisters walk explained below.

Try a beer from the local Beachy Head Brewery at the pub, or have lunch at the Hiker’s Rest cafe. If you’re not doing the walk, park at the East Dean Village Car Park and just enjoy this charming local village.

While it’s perfectly possible to see all the Seven Sisters Cliffs highlights by taking short walks from the car, our favourite way is to walk the length of the cliffs. There are a number of walks in the area, but one of the most popular is from Seaford to Eastbourne.

While this provides an excellent way to collect the Seven Sisters Cliffs, there’s a slightly better route that still includes the scenic coastline but takes a diversion into a charming local village.

The views are better heading from west to east. Therefore, in order to collect the highlights of the Seven Sisters walk, we recommend starting at the Esplanade in Seaford.

Red and white lighthouse in a turquoise sea beside which chalk cliffs

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 6 hours

ELEVATION 350 metres (+/-)

DIFFICULTY Medium – nothing challenging but long

BEST TIME Late-May to mid-July

START – SEAFORD ESPLANADE

From the esplanade in Seaford, follow the well-marked path that climbs around 50 meters to the summit of the glistening chalk facades. From this point, the Seven Sisters trail joins the South Downs Way. Continue along the coastline passing the perfectly positioned golf course.

CONTINUE TO CUCKMERE HAVEN COTTAGES

Follow 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 in case of falling debris.

To continue along the cliffs you need to cross the Cuckmere River which cuts through the beach. At low tide, the river can be crossed either by wading barefoot over the shallow stream, or by using a pair of parallel logs laying across the mouth. 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. It shaves 40 minutes from the walk if you can cross the river at the beach rather than detour upstream.


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CUCKMERE TO BEACHY HEAD LIGHTHOUSE

On the other side of the river, climb back up to the South Downs Way Trail and count the Seven Sisters as the trail rises and falls over undulating grassy banks. At the National Trust café in Birling Gap, there’s a 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. Continue on to Beachy Head to collect some photographs of this iconic sight. Once you’ve taken in the red and white spectacle of the lighthouse, you have two options.

OPTION 1 – FINISH AT EAST DEAN (RECOMMENDED)

After walking up to the Beachy Head Lighthouse, return the way you came for a short distance and take the path inland to the village of East Dean (see map below). This shorter route ambles through sheep-strewn fields and ends in the charming village where you can stop for a pint at the Tiger Inn. Although it leaves the coast, it’s a lovely part of the walk; much nicer than continuing into Eastbourne (next option).

OPTION 2 – FINISH AT EASTBOURNE

Alternatively, from the Beachy Head Lighthouse, continue along the coastal path until you drop into Eastbourne. This is the option that most people take, however, after Beachy Head the views start to get less good. This part of the walk also involves a tedious slog through the outer suburbs of Eastbourne to the bus stop at the modern shopping centre.

HOW TO GET TO THE SEVEN SISTERS CLIFFS FROM LONDON

The Seven Sisters walk starts from Seaford Esplanade, which is 12 miles from Brighton on the south coast. With great transport links in the area, the walk can easily be completed as a day trip from Brighton or London. Here’s how to get to the start of the trail.

BY CAR

Seaford is around 2 – 2.5 hours’ drive from London and around 30 minutes’ drive from Brighton. Parking is available at the Seaford Esplanade; 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.  

BY BUS

The 12, 12X and 12A buses run between Brighton and Eastbourne stopping off at Seaford, with regular services throughout the day. To catch the bus to the start of the walk, get off at the Seaford Library stop. From here is a 10-minute walk down to the esplanade where we start the hike.

BY TRAIN

To get to the Seven Sisters Cliffs from London, catch the train from London Victoria to Seaford Station which has one change in either Lewes or Brighton. The train takes around 1 hour 20 minutes, however, some services are slower, so check the times before you book. It’s a 10-minute walk from the train station to the Esplanade car park.

Alternatively, catch the train from London to Brighton, which has more services, then catch the 12, 12X or 12A bus to Seaford.

RETURNING FROM EAST DEAN OR EASTBOURNE

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 a 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 12X bus back to Seaford or Brighton.

All the bus stops are marked on our map below.


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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, but tucked below the cliff top, 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.


CITY BREAKS – THINGS TO DO IN OXFORD

WHERE TO STAY AT SEVEN SISTERS CLIFFS

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.


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..


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..

WHEN TO HIKE THE SEVEN SISTERS WALK

If the sun is out and wind is not blowing a gale, anytime of year is great to do the Seven Sisters walk. It’s a straight-forward walk that can be done in most weather depending on your tolerance for getting wet.

May to Mid-July is optimal walking season in the UK when temperatures start to rise before the summer crowds descend. During this time, the days are long, flowers will be punctuating the rolling green grass hills and lambs will be dotted across the fields.

If you want to swim, the water will be slightly warmer in August and September.  

MAP – A DIFFERENT ROUTE FOR THE SEVEN SISTERS CLIFFS WALK

The Seven Sisters walk follows the coast, so there is no tricky navigation to follow. However, we do recommend a slightly different route to the one taken by most people. Therefore, our map might come in handy if you decide to take our diversion to the village of East Dean. To do this, follow the route marked in purple.

Our map also lists the bus stops, where to grab some food or drink along the way, plus the start and finishing points. To save our map, click on the star beside the title which will save the map into your Google Maps account.

MORE BRITAIN READING

We’ve spent a lot of time exploring Britain, from rain-soaked outings in the Lake District to strolling historic centres. Here are some more of our guides from our home country including popular iconic sights and lesser-known hidden gems.

JURASSIC COAST

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The best ways to visit and photograph Old Harry Rocks, Dorset

Where to stay on the Jurassic Coast

THE COTSWOLDS

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LAKE DISTRICT

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