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 21.9 km (13.6 miles) Seven Sisters walk is rather easy, though not flat. In this post, we’re going to outline 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.
Planning a Road Trip through England? Check out our 3 Day Cornwall Itinerary.
Seaford to Eastbourne Walk Overview
Trailhead: Seaford Beach
Destination: Eastbourne Pier
Distance: 21.9 km (13.6 miles)
Altitude Difference: Several 50m ascents and descents throughout.
Time Needed: 7 hours with breaks.
Waymarks: 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
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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.
How to get to Seven Sisters
Brighton to Seaford
You can take the number 12 bus from Brighton to Seaford. Try to catch the 12x bus, as it’s faster than the 12 and 12a buses. Use the Brighton & Hove Bus website or app to plan your journey. If you download the 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 ticket to journey back to Brighton from Eastbourne. Note: get off at the “Seaford Station” stop.
London to Seaford
You can take a train from London Victoria to Seaford, changing at Lewes. It takes approximately 1.5 hours.
How to Get to the Seven Sisters Trailhead in Seaford
From Seaford Station, simply head through town to the beach. Walk 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
The coastal trail ascends from Seaford Beach 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 begging 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). 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 is a wonderful spot to enjoy the view of the Seven Sisters and perhaps take a swim. From here, you have two options. During low tide, you can cross the river to the other and walk across the beach to the Seven Sisters Cliffs. 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), you can walk inland along a clear trail to Cuckmere Inn, where there’s a bridge crossing. You can also grab lunch or dinner at Cuckmere Inn.
At Cuckmere Inn, cross the bridge and make an immediate right turn along the other side of the Cuckmere River. The trail continues and eventually, you’ll reach an intersection. You can head straight towards the beach. Or, you can veer left along the South Downs Way. The 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 m soft ascents and descents as you make your way across the cliffs. At Birling Gap, you’ll find a café, a shop, and public restrooms. 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.
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 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.
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 Pub. 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.
Seven Sisters Cliffs Guided Tours
Where to Stay in Brighton
The Seven Sisters hike is a perfect day trip from Brighton. So, if you’re based in Brighton for a few days, definitely prioritize this day trip during your stay. Here are a few recommended places to stay in Brighton:
Budget | Snooze is a quirky bed and breakfast in Kemptown and a mere 4-min walk to the Brighton seafront. If you like funky decor, a friendly environment, and a great location, stay here.
Mid-Range | Red Brighton Blue is a top-rated hotel in Brighton with excellent breakfast, hospitable staff, and great location – positioned almost directly on the seafront.
Luxury | Hotel Una is a creatively-designed boutique hotel in the heart of Brighton.