I feel a sense of déjà vu again today as I finally get around to walking the next section of this route along my home county coastline after a break of seven months. Actually this was a deliberate move on my part as when I last came this way in February 2009 (http://worthingwanderer.blogspot.com/2009/02/south-downs-way-day-nine-berwick.html) it was an exceptionally cold day and I vowed that I would not come here again until it was a warm and still day. Well I definitely found the right day, although the stillness of the air meant that a rather annoying cloud sitting above me for the first couple of hours of walking time didn’t actually move and spoiled my pictures somewhat!
This is probably the finest coastal walk in the whole of the South-East of
The canal cut of the river takes the main flow of water through the valley these days, although it is mooted to restore flow through the former meander loops to help with coastal protection and flooding. This will undoubtedly change the character of the valley, into what is hoped to be a more natural environment (see http://www.sevensisters.org.uk/rte.asp?id=82 for more details). Walking along the straight channel though is undoubtedly a much quicker way of reaching Cuckmere Haven.
The tide was on its way out when I reached the beach and for walkers attempting the full distance between Seaford and Eastbourne it is worth noting that at low tide it is perfectly possible to ford the
I wandered along the shingle beach, which was completely deserted. This is probably as natural a beach as you are likely to find in
At the edge of the beach where it once again gave way to headland in the form of Haven Brow, I couldn’t help notice the collection of pillboxes protecting the beach. I had already been past a set of tank traps, suggesting that the MoD had concerns that this unpopulated estuary posed a big security risk during World War 2. Luckily these structures don’t detract from the scenic beauty of Cuckmere Haven but serve a reminder of what might have been needed if things had gone differently all those years ago.
From here I started the rollercoaster that is the Seven Sisters. Fittingly perhaps, the highest one is first and from the beach Haven Brow is a stiff climb, more than I imagined for last time I approached via the
Being such a beautiful day there was a lot more activity across the cliffs than last time, underlying what a popular walk this is. Yet, there was still plenty of room for solitude and the presence of everybody else didn’t detract from my visit. I soon became intrigued by an unusual form of graffiti when I noticed that many of the previous day’s visitors had spelled out messages from pieces of broken chalk on Short Brow, the second of the Sisters.
I am always surprised at how short the walk is from the top of Haven Brow to Birling Gap, which takes only about 45 minutes to an hour (depending on how long you want to admire the views for!). The trouble is that I always think that the hardest part of the walk is done, but the truth is that the next couple of miles over
As it was low tide and still going out when I reached Birling Gap I decided to explore the wave cut platform for a bit. I had ideas of walking around the base of the cliffs to
A little further on from Birling Gap I was pleased to see that the Belle Tout lighthouse renovations were complete and the scaffolding had been removed. I couldn’t help but smile though when I saw that the road that I had considered to scary to walk on last time had been abandoned and replaced by another concrete road about 50 metres further inland. I wouldn’t mind betting that the original road will be gone within 20 years, leaving no trace whatsoever. At this point last February, I had lost interest in my surroundings courtesy of a sharp easterly Siberian wind but by now the annoying cloud above me had finally shifted and all was still and warm. Far from being the struggle I thought
The top of
I soon came to The Meads, marking the eastern end of Eastbourne Seafront. I took a quick look at
There was just time to admire the pier before getting the bus from right outside. There could scarcely be a more convenient spot to catch it for the short journey back to Exceat! Eastbourne seems a rather strange climax to this walk, after the clifftops and sweeping views across the