The Seven Sisters are a series of chalk cliffs stretching from Cuckmere Haven to Birling Gap in East Sussex, England. These white cliffs along the English Channel are one of Southern England’s most striking landscapes. Topped with a carpet of green grass, the brilliant white cliffs plunge dramatically into the cerulean sea.
The cliffs of Dover might be England’s most famous cliffs, but the Seven Sisters are more beautiful. The best way to experience the Seven Sisters cliffs is by walking the coastal trail from Seaford to Eastbourne. The 22.5 km (14 miles) Seven Sisters walk is easy technically, though moderate due to the distance and the rolling ascents and descents over the Cliffs.
In this Seven Sisters walking guide, we’ve outlined how to get to the trailhead, where to eat along the way, and answer all the questions you might be asking about walking from Seaford to Eastbourne.
Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk
Seaford to Eastbourne Walk Overview
- Trailhead: Seaford Beach. Exact Location: Google Maps
- Destination: Eastbourne Pier
- Distance: 22.5 km (14 miles) point-to-point
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Elevation Gain (total uphill): 285 meters
- Elevation Loss (total downhill): 287 meters
- Time Needed: 7 hours with breaks
- Route: Seaford Beach – Hope Gap – Coastguard Cottages – Cuckmere Haven – Cuckmere Inn – Seven Sisters Country Park – Birling Gap – Belle Tout Lighthouse – Beachy Head Lighthouse – Beachy Head Pub – Eastbourne Seaside Promenade – Eastbourne
- Where to Stay in Brighton: Snooze (midrange), The Charm Brighton Boutique Hotel & Spa (midrange), Hotel Una (luxury)
- Where to Stay in Eastbourne: The View Hotel (midrange), Ravilious Hotel (midrange), or The Chatsworth Hotel (luxury).
- What to Bring: A daypack like the Women’s Osprey Tempest 30 or Men’s Osprey Talon 33, reusable BPA Free water bottle like this Ion 1 Litre Water Bottle, sun protection (hat, sunglasses, and sun lotion), and sturdy shoes.
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Seven Sisters Map
Where to Start the Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk
The Seven Sisters are located in the South Downs National Park in Exceat. However, the best place to start the 7 Sisters coastal trail is in Seaford.
Another option is to start in Eastbourne, but we think the views are more spectacular if you walk east.
You could potentially begin the hike in Exceat (Cuckmere Haven) or Birling Gap, but you’d miss a beautiful stretch of coast if you shorten the walk. So, our recommendation is to hike the whole stretch from Seaford to Eastbourne.
Also check out: Cornwall Road Trip Itinerary
How to Get to Seven Sisters
Brighton to Seaford
You can take the #12 bus (Brighton – Eastbourne) from Brighton to Seaford Station. Try to catch the 12x bus, as it’s faster than the 12 and 12a buses.
Use the Brighton & Hove Bus website or mobile app to plan your journey.
For information on payment methods, read Fares & Way to Pay.
If you download the Brighton & Hove Bus app, click the hamburger menu > Browse Tickets > Network > Network Saver > 24 Hours. The ticket costs 5 GBP for 1 Adult or 8.40 GBP for 2 Adults (“Duo 24 Hour”). You’ll be able to use this 24 hour ticket to journey back to Brighton from Eastbourne.
London to Seaford
You can take a train from London Victoria to Seaford, changing at Lewes. The train journey takes approximately 1:40 hours.
From Brighton, it’s a 35 minute drive to Seaford.
From London, it’s a 2:30 hour drive to Seaford.
You can park for free, up to 12 hours, at the Seaford Esplanade car park. There are other parking areas in Seaford, which are pay-and-display. For more info re: parking, check out this page.
If you’re interested in a guided experience, this full-day tour takes you to the Seven Sisters Cliffs from London. This tour highlights the best places to visit in the South Downs National Park and Seven Sisters Country Park including Devil’s Dyke, the Neolithic carving at the Long Man of Wilmington, Beachy Head, Birling Gap and Seaford Head.
Though the tour doesn’t encompass the entire Seaford-Eastbourne route, it samples the most iconic stretches, including Seaford Head to the coastguard cottages.
How to Get to the Seven Sisters Trailhead in Seaford
From Seaford Station, simply walk through town to the beach.
Continue along Seaford’s seaside promenade to the easternmost end of the beach. You’ll pass a number of colorful beach huts before reaching the start of the trail. If you’re driving, there’s a small parking lot at the trailhead.
Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk Description
Seaford Esplanade to Hope Gap
From the eastern-end of the esplanade in Seaford, the Seven Sisters coastal trail ascends up to the cliffs to the Seaford Head Nature Reserve. The trail runs parallel to the cliff edge.
For your personal safety, make sure to always maintain a 5-meter distance from the edge. Chalk is very brittle and these coastal cliffs are prone to rock falls.
At the beginning of the hike, you’ll notice a golf course to your left. The walk continues to Hope Gap, where you’ll have an opportunity to descend to the beach (during low tide).
Hope Gap to Cuckmere Haven
Next, the scenic Seven Sisters trail takes you to Cuckmere Haven. This segment of the trail was our absolute favorite, as it provided the most impressive view of the glimmering Seven Sisters Cliffs.
You’ll pass the famous Coastguard Cottages – forever memorialized in films like Atonement – before reaching the beach.
At the Cuckmere beach, the Cuckmere River joins the sea and effectively divides the beach into two sections.
This scenic beach is a wonderful spot to enjoy the view of the Seven Sisters and perhaps take a swim.
Cuckmere Haven to Cuckmere Inn
From the Cuckmere Haven beach, you have two options. During low tide, you can cross the river to the other side and walk across the beach to the Seven Sisters Cliffs trail.
During high tide, the crossing of the river may be too deep, and you would have to swim across.
For those that want to stay dry (like us), walk inland along the river to Cuckmere Inn, where there’s a bridge crossing. You can also grab lunch or dinner at the Cuckmere Inn.
Cuckmere Inn to Birling Gap
At Cuckmere Inn, cross the bridge and turn right immediately. Follow this riverside trail back to the coast. The path continues parallel to the Cuckmere River for about a kilometer.
When you reach an intersection, you can either continue straight towards the beach, or veer left along the South Downs Way. These trails will ultimately intersect atop the Seven Sisters Cliffs.
The section between Cuckmere Haven and Birling Gap is characterized by a series of 40-50 meter soft ascents and descents as you make your way across the cliffs. The views unravel spectacularly along this undulating cliff trail.
At Birling Gap, there’s a National Trust Café, visitor centre, shop, and public restrooms. These facilities are open daily from 10 am until 5 pm. There’s also a staircase, known as the “Birling Gap Steps”, which leads down from the cliff top to the pebbly beach below. The steps are closed in cases of bad weather, or recent cliff falls.
Because Birling Gap is accessible by car, this is the busiest area along the Seven Sisters Cliffs. Easy beach access, makes this a perfect place for swimming on a warm summer day.
Birling Gap to Beachy Head
From Birling Gap, continue in the direction of Belle Tout Lighthouse. At the lighthouse, there is a small shop selling ice cream and refreshments.
The next section of the Seven Sisters hike brings you to the cliffs overlooking the candy-cane-like lighthouse at Beachy Head.
There’s a pub near Beachy Head, with indoor and outdoor seating. We stopped here for a beer but regretted not getting the cake at the Birling Gap café.
Beachy Head to Eastbourne
From Beachy Head, continue in the direction of Eastbourne.
There are several footpaths to choose from, but they all end at Duke’s Drive road. Continue walking along the road, pass Helen Garden, and then take Holywell Drive to the Eastbourne seaside promenade.
The hike is essentially over. You’ll just continue walking along the Promenade until reaching the center of town. It’s a mere 2-3 minute walk to the 12 bus stop “Terminus Road” from the Eastbourne Pier.
Where to Eat along the Seven Sisters Hiking Trail
There are three places to eat along the 7 Sisters Walk: Cuckmere Inn, Birling Gap Café, and Beachy Head Inn.
Cuckmere Inn and Beachy Head Pub are both Vintage Inns. Birling Gap Café is operated by the National Trust.
The food isn’t outstanding anywhere. However, the Birling Gap Café is perfect for a cream tea or cake and coffee.
The Cuckmere Inn is located 1.8 km inland (20 minute walk) from the beach at Cuckmere Haven. During high tide, you will have to detour to Cuckmere Inn, in order to cross the Cuckmere River safely via the bridge. The outdoor terrace overlooks the river and the rural surroundings. It’s a lovely setting for a drink, but the food is mediocre. They serve pub classics like fish & chips, chicken and mushroom pie, roasted salmon, seared fillets of sea bass, slow-cooked beef and porcini bourguinon, fishcakes, etc…
- Address: Exceat Bridge, Seaford BN25 4AB England
- Opening Times: Daily from 11:30 pm – 10 pm
- Reviews: Tripadvisor
- Menu: Cuckmere Inn Menu
Birling Gap Café
The Birling Gap Café is a bustling National Trust café at Birling Gap. They sell a variety of savory snacks, light meals, deli rolls, paninis, and grab&go pastries. They also offer a wide selection of scones and cakes including victoria sponge, lemon curd cake, chocolate fudge cake, lemon and lime cake, carrot cake, coffee and walnut cake.
- Address: The Birlings Birling Gap East Dean, Birling Gap BN20 0AB England
- Opening Times: 10 am – 5 pm
- Reviews: Tripadvisor
- More Info: National Trust Website
Beachy Head Inn
Beachy Head Inn is a cozy pub with indoor and outdoor seating. Reviews are very mixed. They serve the same menu as Cuckmere Inn.
- Address: Beachy Head Countryside Centre Beachy Head Road, Eastbourne BN20 7YA England
- Opening Times: Monday – Saturday (11:30 am – 10:30 pm), Sunday (11:30 pm – 10 pm)
- Reviews: Tripadvisor
- Menu: Beachy Head Menu
When to Hike the Seven Sisters Cliffs
It’s possible to hike from Seaford to Eastbourne all-year-round. However, the weather is generally more stable between May and September. The absolute best time to hike the Seven Sisters Cliffs is in May and June, when flowers are blooming, crowds are manageable, and rain is minimal.
Where to Stay near the Seven Sisters Cliffs
The Seven Sisters hike is a perfect day trip from Brighton. Here are the best places to stay in England’s most famous seaside resort.
Midrange | Snooze is a quirky, upbeat bed and breakfast in Kemptown and a mere 4-minute walk to the Brighton seafront. If you like funky decor, a friendly environment, and a great location, stay in this top-rated B&B.
Midrange | The Charm Brighton Boutique Hotel & Spa boasts bright interiors, plush furnishings, a fabulous breakfast, and a very caring staff. Brighton’s most darling boutique hotel is a mere 2 minute walk to the beach. During your stay, you can also book spa treatments and facilities.
Luxury | Hotel Una is stylishly put together with natural wood accents, modern art, and contemporary furniture. Located in a recently converted Regency house, this unique hotel blends old with new in exciting ways. Come here for the uniquely decorated rooms, inviting hotel cocktail bar, and the helpful and friendly staff. Breakfast included in the room rate.
Midrange – Top Pick | Ravilious Hotel is a stylish boutique hotel housed in a Victorian house with soaring reviews. Rooms feature hardwood floors, bold accent walls, and tea and coffee making facilities. A cooked English breakfast is included.
Midrange | The View Hotel is conveniently situated at the end of the Seaford-Eastbourne coastal trail. Stay here for the sea views, modern rooms, and seafront location.
Luxury | Chatsworth Hotel is an elegant seafront hotel in Eastbourne, boasting spacious rooms with sumptuous furnishings, sea views, marble bathrooms, and seating areas.
Seven Sisters Cliffs Hiking Essentials
- Hiking Backpack: Osprey Tempest 30 Women’s Backpack / Osprey Talon 33 Men’s Backpack – This day pack is very comfortable and lightweight. We recommend buying the 30/33 liter backpack as opposed to the 20/22 liter backpack (Women’s Osprey Tempest 20 / Men’s Osprey Talon 22) because it’s more versatile. The extra room is critical for packing food, layers, and camera equipment. We use our Tempest backpacks religiously for both coastal hiking and mountain hiking.
- Grade A/B Hiking Boots
- Polarized, CAT 3- 4 Sunglasses: Julbo Shield Mountain Sunglasses
Food & Water
- Reusuable BPA Free Water Bottle: Ion 1 Litre Water Bottle
- Snacks (granola bars, apples, trail mix, etc…)
Outdoor Photography Gear
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