Sunday, 26 December 1999


Cuckmere Haven → Eastbourne

[Atop The Seven Sisters][The Burge Boys]

Distance: 9.1 miles
Ascent: unknown
Duration: unknown

A Boxing Day drama
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Although I've lived within striking distance of the Seven Sisters for the past ten years, I've never walked them. So with Mum's brother and family visiting from South Africa and a willing chauffeur in Dad, the Sisters made the perfect Boxing Day walk.

After the short walk down the Cuckmere River from Exceat to Cuckmere Haven, the path begins to climb Haven Brow, the first of the Sisters. Once on the top, the going was easier than I expected. The drop between each sister is no more than thirty metres, and the climbs aren't too steep.

Sooner than expected we dropped down Birling Gap, where the small community is under threat from the frequent cliff falls. Our lift home was waiting, but keen for a longer walk in what was turning into a glorious day, Kev and I decided to keep going. Why stop with the Seven Sisters when Beachy Head is beckoning?

As we climbed to Belle Tout, past the lighthouse that's recently been moved back from the cliff-top for its own safety, I turned round to admire the view. What I saw was worrying: somewhere over Seaford jet black clouds were hugging the coast. From then on I looked back every five minutes or so and came to the sorry conclusion that the storm was heading our way.

The clouds caught up with us as we reached the summit of Beachy Head: first rain, then hail and for good measure lightning. Beachy Head is the highest point for miles around, with no shelter. It's not where you want to be in the middle of a thunderstorm. As we started our descent into Eastbourne, the delay between lightning and thunder shortened until with a deafening crash a bolt hit the ground right between us.

We finally reached Eastbourne Pier soaked through and with pulses racing. A dramatic walk amidst some of the finest scenery the south coast has to offer.

Posted by pab at 22:00