The Seven Sisters is a hiker’s paradise, nestled on the stunning coastline of Southern England. Offering breathtaking views, dramatic cliffs and picturesque landscapes. Perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, hikers or nature lovers.
Whether you’re an expert hiker or beginner, the Seven Sister cliff walk is the ideal hike for you. It’s challenging but rewarding, as you stroll past some amazing landscape.
In this comprehensive guide to Seven Sisters cliff walk, we share our experience, essential tips and different routes you could take, to highlight the must-see attractions along the way.
The popular route across the South Downs National Park between Eastbourne and Seaford, is an unforgettable trip through one of England’s most picturesque countryside’s and one you won’t want to miss.
So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera and some water and let’s head out on an epic journey.
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Table of Contents
Where to start the hike?
You have a couple of routes you could take the most famous route being the South Downs Way, which is a 160km trek, starting in Eastbourne to Winchester.
The route we cover is a very small portion of this, starting in either Eastbourne or Seaford.
You can start at either town, we have hiked the Seven Sisters in both directions, both an amazing experience offering different views and landscapes along the way.
In our opinion, we preferred to start in Eastbourne and finish in Seaford, simply because the views are far better, with the views over the Seven Sisters as you go, and the inclines are not as steep.
How long does it take to walk the Seven Sisters
This will depend on the route you take and the distance you cover.
The hike we did, was from Eastbourne to Seaford, walking over the Seven Sisters cliff, was about 13.6 miles (21.9km).
If you take the same route we did, then it can take anything from 5-7 hours depending on your experience and fitness level.
There are some steep ascends and descends over the Seven Sisters, this makes it a little challenging.
An inexperienced hiker or someone that doesn’t have a good level of fitness should consider taking a beginner level route.
Where to stay in Eastbourne
Stay the night before in Eastbourne and be relaxed and ready for the Seven Sisters cliff walk the next day.
If you have longer, we would recommend staying in the small seaside town for a couple of days.
Eastbourne offer some amazing hotels and B&B’s that will relax you before you challenge yourself with the hike.
Here are our recommendations on where to stay in Eastbourne.
The View Hotel
This is our favourite hotel, whether we are staying for 24 hours in Eastbourne or hiking the Seven Sisters, we always stay at The View Hotel.
Located along the seafront, offering rooms with a view over the English Channel. Most rooms include a balcony, to bask in the sun or watch the sun set.
Room prices start at £100.00+ per night depending on the room and the season.
Staying over a weekend, then the Sunday carvery is a must. All you can eat roast dinner, with lashings of meat, vegetables and gravy. With amazing views across the sea front and the ocean.
The afternoon tea is also worth ordering when you’re staying in Eastbourne. Sit in the bar or on a hot summer’s day, enjoy afternoon tea on the balcony and watch the world go by.
The staff in reception, the bar or restaurants are always pleasant, friendly and helpful.
If you want a bit of luxury on your hiking trip across the Seven Sisters, then The View Hotel is the place to stay in Eastbourne.
Looking for a budget friendly but comfortable hotel to stay in? Then The Cavendish comes highly recommended.
The rooms are basic, with some rooms offering sea views. Sadly, no balconies from your room here.
The staff are friendly and welcoming, while the small bar and restaurant offer a good selection on the menu.
How to get to the Seven Sisters
The Seven Sisters cliffs are located on the southeast coast of England, between the small town of Eastbourne and Seaford.
Navigating your way to either start points in Eastbourne or Seaford, by public transport or private car is easy.
A bus service connects Eastbourne and Seaford with Brighton.
Bus 12 from Brighton or Eastbourne stops in Seaford and includes Beachy Head, Seven Sisters and Cuckmere Haven.
Ticket prices start at £2.00 for a single and run every 10 minutes.
There are no buses from London to Eastbourne, you’ll have to catch a train to Brighton and then a bus or catch the direct train to Eastbourne from London.
For logistical purposes the train might be the better option.
A direct train from London Victoria to Eastbourne run once an hour, with ticket prices starting at £35.00 per person.
It is quicker to get to Eastbourne by train, at about 1 hour 30 minutes.
Trains also run from Brighton or Hastings, taking just under 1 hour.
Travelling by car is the easiest and most convenient way to get to Eastbourne or Seaford.
Driving, allows for flexibility and is a direct route.
If you have your own vehicle, you could take a road trip along the southeast coast of England and include this Seven Sisters cliff walk into your itinerary.
There is plenty of parking, either at in the multi-story car park, or at the side of the road along the seafront.
If you are staying in Eastbourne for the weekend, some accommodation offers free parking. The View Hotel will provide you with a parking permit which costs £2.00 for 24 hours.
Alternatively, there are residential roads just outside the city centre that will offer free parking with no restrictions. It does mean you’ll have to walk into town or catch public transport.
If you do find parking in a residential area, always be courteous of the residence. Don’t park in front of a driveway and block it, don’t block the road up if it isn’t wide enough. While these are common sense, it does happen, which only frustrates residence and passers-by.
Seaford is a great place to also park the car. At the start of the Seven Sisters cliff walk, there is a large car park that offers free parking for 12 hours.
Parking in Seaford offers you the chance to start the walk in Seaford or take a bus to Eastbourne and hike back to Seaford to meet your car.
If you plan to start or end in Eastbourne, then catch bus number 12 to Eastbourne or Brighton.
Where to eat on your Seven Sisters hike
You need to stay fuelled while hiking the Seven Sisters between Eastbourne and Seaford.
For such a remote location, there are plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes to pick something up along the way.
Alternatively, pack a picnic or lunch, to keep your budget low. Find a beautiful location and enjoy the landscapes.
Let’s start with what food to pack to keep you fuelled for this hike over the Seven Sisters?
What food should I pack for my Seven Sisters Cliff Walk?
Firstly, you must have enough food and snacks with you plus extra in the event of an emergency.
Packing some snacks such as nuts, fruit and energy bars, will give you enough energy to keep you going. For lunch you should be packing protein and carbohydrates. Some great lunch ideas are egg sandwiches, which contains a high level of protein but also carbohydrates. Pasta salad with tuna or egg is another great alternative.
If you are a beginner, do not pack sweets, crisps or buy fast food. These foods will only slow you down and make you feel lethargic and uncomfortable.
A healthy balanced diet while hiking is the best fuel for your body along with plenty of fluids. And it will help you to achieve your goals.
Don’t want to carry lunch around with you? Then there’s plenty of stops along the way, such as our favourites:
The Cuckmere Inn
A popular pub and restaurant with a large outside garden space to enjoy a meal and a cool drink. Or plenty of indoor seating on the cooler days.
There is a large car park, for patrons who have driven to Eastbourne.
A wide range of dishes available from the all-day menu, with steak and chips, chicken skewers and chips or hummus and flat bread, to burgers and fries and their 2-course lunch menu.
With a balance of protein and carbohydrates, this offers one of the best places to stop for some well-earned food, before heading off to the finish line.
Saltmarsh Rooms & Café
The Saltmarsh Rooms & Café is located just off Dean Street, with a large pay and display car park, ideal if you’re looking for somewhere to park for the day.
Arrive here early to enjoy the breakfast menu, which is served between 9am and 11:30am.
If breakfast is too early, then check out their lunch menu. Lunch is a special board with a wide range of toasted sandwiches, salads and quiches.
There is no seating room inside, but during the shoulder months and summer months, sit outside and enjoy the fresh air.
After a long hike across the Seven Sisters, we especially enjoy a refreshing cup of tea and a piece of cake, which is delicious.
The cakes here are so popular that you need to get here early to avoid missing out.
Birling Gap Café
This budget friendly option might be one of the best places to stop on your hike over the South Downs Way.
This small café offers seating options both inside and outside. But we would recommend ordering food to take away and then sit on the beach below the cliffs for a relaxing refuelling stop.
A variety of snacks, treats and light meals, from breakfast, soup, pastries, sandwiches, salads and jacket potato. Just the right food to keep you going for the rest of the day.
Oh, wherever we go, we always check out the afternoon tea, or cream tea options. And yes, Birling Gap Café, have a range of cakes, bakes and cream tea.
Indulge in the cream tea, with jam and clotted cream, yum.
The Beachy Head
This large restaurant is located close to the road and offers plenty of free parking.
Enjoy the views as you drink a cool beer and consume great food.
Both inside and outdoor seating available, although limited outside.
The food isn’t bad and draws us back year on year.
Although during the peak season, The Beachy Head can get busy, so you may want to reserve a table in advance.
What to pack for your hike?
Packing the right equipment is essential and will be a lifesaver.
Ideally, the hike between Eastbourne and Seaford, shouldn’t take longer that 7 hours to complete, so a day backpack should be sufficient.
You’ll need plenty of water, it is recommended to take between 1-2 litres, either in a bottle or a water pouch.
Snacks is a must and take some extra for emergencies. Take snacks that provide you with energy, such as nuts and bananas.
Want a more comprehensive list of what to pack, plus packing check list, then check out what to pack for a hike. We include everything for beginner hikers to multi day hikes.
Seven Sisters cliff walk – the route
In our opinion, the views and the route are far better walking from Eastbourne to Seaford.
We have hiked in both directions. It felt challenging hiking from Seaford to Eastbourne due to the steep ascent, compared to that of Eastbourne to Seaford.
In our opinion, hiking from Eastbourne to Seaford, was far easier. But if you’re up for a challenge, you may prefer Seaford to Eastbourne route.
Starting point: Eastbourne
Begin your adventure in the beautiful seaside town of Eastbourne.
Make your way along the seafront with the beautiful views of the beach on your left. While you walk, admire the panoramic views of the coast.
Walk about 1 mile until you reach Bede’s Prep School on your left. Directly in front will be a small café called the Kiosk.
Not only is this the start of one of many ascents, but this could be a great time for you to stop to get something to eat or drink. The Kiosk offers a small range of hot food, drinks and snacks.
Ascend the first hill and follow the South Downs Way for just under 2 miles.
You will now reach Beachy Head Cliff. Over to the right, the main road follows the route into Birling Gap. Just beyond the road is your first stop, if you’re hungry at The Beachy Head restaurant.
Alternatively, push on until Birling Gap.
There are public toilets, for a quick break.
Leg 1: Beachy Head to Birling Gap
About a 3 mile walk to Beachy Head, follow the South Downs Way until you reach Belle Tout Lighthouse.
Belle Tout Lighthouse is a picturesque landmark. A decommission lighthouse that has since been converted into a hotel. A unique place to stay, with 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape.
Take a few snaps of this iconic landmark, before continuing to Birling Gap for your first rest stop.
Arrive at Birling Gap, with lovely views and a refreshment stop.
Toilet facilities are available before continuing to Cuckmere Haven.
Leg 2: Birling Gap to Cuckmere Haven
This is probably going to be the challenging part of the hike, as you ascend and descend the Seven Sisters.
The distance is about 4 miles to reach Cuckmere Haven.
Take your time and take regular breaks for a minute or 2 before continuing.
Descend the last cliff to Cuckmere Haven.
Follow the tranquil river valley to Cuckmere Haven.
Always keep the edge of the cliffs to your left as you really can’t go wrong.
Leg 3: Cuckmere Haven to Seaford
After following the Cuckmere River away from the coast, you now need to head back towards the coast to make your way to Seaford.
Stay on the path and walk along the A259 until you reach The Cuckmere Inn.
Follow the path on the left of The Cuckmere Inn, this runs alongside the Cuckmere River, which leads out to the English Channel.
After about 1 and a half miles you’ll reach the famous Coastguard Cottages. Famous private houses on the edge of the cliffs. They have featured in many television programs and films.
Take the time for a few snaps of the Coast Guard Cottages with the Seven Sisters in the distance before continuing.
Follow Seaford Head with the cliffs on your left until you descend into Seaford.
Ending point: Seaford
Your journey has now concluded.
Unwind on the pebble beach, or slowly make your way back to Eastbourne or your journey back home.
If you have decided to hike the Seven Sisters Cliff from Seaford to Eastbourne, just follow this itinerary in reverse.
Guided tours and accessibility options
If you prefer the hassle-free approach and experience hiking the Seven Sisters, then you have 2 options.
You could book one of these awesome tours, which include the iconic Seven Sisters cliff, or you could hop on and hop off the public bus that covers the same route between Eastbourne and Seaford.
This Seven Sisters and South Downs tour is a full day trip from London all planned out for you. See the highlights without breaking into a sweat. Although, hiking is much more fun.
Alternatively, take 12x between Seaford and Eastbourne and stop off at Cuckmere Haven, Birling Gap and Beachy Head.
Enjoy the beautiful landscape at your own pace.
Sadly, the facility along the route, isn’t suitable for wheelchair users. This in part is due to the terrain in the area.
Tips for hiking safely
While the Seven Sisters Cliff Walk is a beautiful and rewarding hiking destination, it’s also important to stay safe during the journey.
Here are some safety precautions and guidelines to keep in mind:
Always stay on a marked trail and never venture off the paths, as it can be dangerous and harmful to you, the people and wildlife.
The trails are there for a reason and respect any signage or barriers.
Keep away from the cliff edge! It has been known for the cliff edge to crumble away, you don’t want to be on the edge when that happens.
It can be slippery, with loose rocks, which could cause you to slip or trip.
Bring spare clothing in case the weather changes. It can get cold and windy at higher points along the trail, bring layers for the cooler conditions and pack lightweight wet weather clothing in case of rain.
Always check the weather forecast before your trip and pack for the unpredictable weather you could encounter.
Always tell someone your plans and stay in touch with them throughout the hike. Provide them with your intended route and the time you are expected to complete the hike.
If the worst should happen, they can raise the alarm as quickly as possible.
Before you leave, charge your phone battery and make sure it is fully charged.
In the event of an emergency or should you need assistance, having a fully charged phone can be a lifesaver.
Also pack in your hiking backpack a fully charged portable power bank. This will extend your battery life on your phone by charging it if required.
Pack a first aid kit, in case of a minor injury or illness. The most common injury on any hike is blisters. Bring plenty of plasters and blister plasters, so you can patch yourself up and continue your hike.
By following these safety precautions and guidelines, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience while hiking the Seven Sisters Cliff Walk.
Local attractions near the Seven Sisters
Make the most of Eastbourne by spending a couple of days in the seaside town.
There’re a few things to do, we would recommend walking along the seafront, hiking the Seven Sisters, eating fish and chips, which is a must in any seaside town, enjoy a lovely afternoon tea and plenty more.
We have written a comprehensive guide on things to do in Eastbourne, which you can check out here.
Eastbourne is a favourite place to visit, for which we visit year on year.
Preparing for the hike
Before you hike the Seven Sisters cliff, you need to be well prepared to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Research the trail and familiarise yourself with the route, distance and difficulty level.
If you are a beginner, you may wish to take on a shorter route before doing a 10-mile trek. If you’re more advanced and love to hike, you could extend the route either into Alfriston or along the coast to Brighton.
We mentioned it before, but it is something you should check regularly and that’s the weather. The weather conditions can greatly impact your hike, so check the forecast daily.
Dress appropriately for the weather and pack layers and raincoat and trousers.
Pack the essential items. You’ll need water, snacks, a map, GPS (although this isn’t a must), suncream, hat, first aid kit, clothing and the right footwear.
It’s so important to stay hydrated and nourished during your hike, especially on the long-distance routes.
The right footwear is a must. You’ll be on your feet for the entire journey, covering different terrain which could be uneven and challenging. So, protecting your feet is so important.
A good pair of hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes is key. Good shoes will provide better stability and support, reducing the risk of injury or painful feet.
Wear the shoes in first to prevent blisters.
Take advantage of the daylight hours by getting an early start. This will give you time to complete the hike at a comfortable pace and avoid crowds.
Night hiking isn’t safe, unless you are advanced and familiar with the terrain.
Pacing and rest stops
To avoid fatigue and injury you should pace yourself. This isn’t a race, so walk at a pace that is comfortable for you.
We will pace ourselves by taking regular stops. Once we have hiked a steep section of the route, we will stop just for a minute or two so we can catch our breath and be ready for the rest of the trip.
If you feel a little tight in your muscles at any point, avoid injury by stopping and stretching.
Taking regular stops along the way will also help you to stay on track of the hike.
There are a few rest stops along the way. We would recommend The Kiosk at the base of Beachy Head, The Beachy Head is a lovely stop for a refreshing break and maybe something to eat, before heading straight to Birling Gap for food and drink.
Cuckmere Haven is your final rest stop before reaching Seaford.
If you do need to stop and rest at any point, then you don’t have to wait until our recommended rest stops, just rest.
We are all completely different, so you may want to stop more or less than us.
Finally, make sure you have sufficient water and food with you. You need to sustain hydration and energy, that way you won’t fall sick, or struggle with fatigue.
Pack healthy nutritional food with you, as you need to fuel the body in the right way.
Post hike care
Before and after your hike, do a short warm up or cool down. Stretching your muscle before and after a workout will prevent muscle strain and soreness.
Once you have reached the end of your hike, treat yourself to a delicious meal and reflect on the achievement you have made completing the hike.
If you ended the route in Eastbourne, we would recommend The View Hotel, The Victorian Tea Rooms on the pier and Harry Ramsdens.
If you ended in Seaford, then head to Sub-Station for a budget friendly celebratory sandwich.
The Seven Sisters cliff walk is truly a breathtaking experience, with stunning views of the English Channel and surrounding countryside.
Experience rugged cliffs, rolling hills and wonderful coastline.
This coastal trail is a must-visit for outdoor adventure lovers and hiking enthusiast.
Whether you’re a beginner looking for a short walk or someone who is looking to get out for the day to hike the South Downs Way, you are guaranteed to be captivated by the beauty and serenity of this unique landscape.
Now it’s time to prepare for an amazing experience, as you head out for an adventure over the cliffs of the Seven Sisters.
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