The Seven Sisters cliffs walk, from Seaford to Eastbourne, is probably one of the most well known hikes that you can do as a day trip from London, and it’s not hard to see why.
I have done this walk countless times, and the magnificent white chalk cliff views get me every time.
Also, the fact that you can get to the Seven Sisters cliffs from London in about 1.5 hours, makes it a perfect outdoorsy day trip hike. It’s also extremely easy to navigate. In fact, it’s impossible to get lost, and I challenge anyone to do so.
Read more: What to pack on a day hike
Why is it called the Seven Sisters?
Each sister represents a hill, although technically there is
Basically, it’s very hilly. Although, the scenery
How long is the Seven Sisters walk?
The full walk itself, is about 11-13 miles station to station (Seaford and Eastbourne). H
Where are the Seven Sisters?
The Seven Sisters cliffs are within the South Downs National park, and forms a part of two walking trails. The England Coast Path, and the South Downs Way.
They are specifically located in the south east corner of the South Downs. If coming from London, you basically head south until you hit the sea.
How hard is the Seven Sisters walk?
I’m going to say moderate. Some may dispute that and say it’s challenging. There are a bunch of hills, that really get your heart rate up, but they don’t go on for that long. I would say that it’s the length of the walk that makes it harder as opposed to the hills.
Which direction should you walk the Seven Sisters cliffs?
The most popular way to walk the cliffs, is from Seaford to Eastbourne. The views are just a little bit better that way (in my opinion).
That’s not to say the other direction is bad, it’s just a slightly lower level of amazing.
Also, if you start the walk from Seaford, you get to the cliffs pretty quickly, however, from Eastbourne, you have a bit of a walk
I’m now going to talk you through the route itself. All distances I mention will be based on my walk along the Seven Sisters Cliffs on this day. You will find full logistical info for the Seven Sisters cliffs walk, ie how to get there, timings, an interactive map, as well as tips and safety information after. So if you aren’t interested in the description, just scroll past it 🙂
Why I wanted to go and hike the Seven Sisters cliffs again…
I have hiked the Seven Sisters cliffs more times than I can count….all before I started this website. I have been wanting to write a guide about the Seven Sisters cliffs walk for a while, however, I didn’t have many photos to show you its beauty.
So, a couple of weeks ago I went and walked it again, just for photography purposes….but also, any excuse to see the cliffs again.
The day I returned to the beautiful coastline was to be the hottest August bank holiday Monday EVER. I was strategic for this walk (maybe for the wrong reasons)….
I planned it so that for half the walk, the sun would be in front of me, half the walk behind. You know, so I could even out sun exposure (cough, tanning).
However, I failed to think about the fact that this would also be the worst photography conditions, the middle of the day and harsh sunlight, the main reason I was actually doing this walk.
Although, I wasn’t too sad. The walk is good enough that I can forgive that. But man I had some real hard work when it came to the photos…They were almost unusable. The only way around it was to take some creative liberties with some of the colours in editing.
Anyway, let’s get into the good stuff.
The Seven Sisters Cliffs Walk: Seaford to Eastbourne
Once out of Seaford train station, take a right and head to the sea. It’s only a 5min walk. You will pass a supermarket, giving you a chance to get any supplies you may have forgotten. Once you reach the shingle beach take a left, and you will get your first grand white cliffs view. Seaford Head.
Now head towards these cliffs. From here on out you will be walking with the sea to your right for the whole way. I started my tracker once I reached the beach. All distances mentioned from now will reflect that.
Seaford Head will be your first uphill and as you reach the top you get great views back over Seaford.
Next, you will walk past a golf course (walking past golf courses seems to be the standard for any great
Fun fact: The Sisters Sisters cliffs are often used as filming locations as a stand in for the famous white cliffs of Dover as they are free of any modern development.
Cuckmere Haven – 2.7 miles
Cuckmere Haven is a valley where the South Downs meets the sea. This is where the Seven Sisters cliffs start.
When the tide is in, unless you want to get mega wet, you must walk inland along the river, through the Cuckmere valley, to reach a bridge crossing. Then walk back along the river on the other side.
It does make for an interesting change in scenery. You will pass fields with grazing cattle and sheep. Even some canoeists in the river.
It does, however, add quite a bit to your walking distance (about 2 miles). If you don’t fancy the extra walk, then try and time it so you get here for low tide…..or be prepared to get very wet.
I didn’t check the tide times, so was prepared to have to walk through the river. I had no time for walking inland. Turns out the tide was way out.
The only downside to the tide being out, is you have to walk across the shingle of death to reach the Seven Sisters cliffs.
A few fun facts….
Fun fact: Cuckmere Haven has been used as a fil
Even more fun fact: At low tight you can see part of a German sailing ship wreck.
Extra fun fact: This area was very popular for smugglers between the 16th and 18th centuries.
You have the option to start or stop your walk from here, via the local village of Exceat where there are bus links. It’s slightly inland, and you can reach it by following that river I talked about.
You can read more about the area on the National Trust website.
Begin the hike up the Seven Sisters
As you head up the first sister, it is quite steep and could be slippy if your shoes don’t have good grip. At the top, take a look back for a great view back over the beach and the Cuckmere Valley.
This is also where the trail becomes part of the South Downs Way.
Just a note, the best views of the cliffs are actually either side of them. When you are walking on the Seven Sisters cliffs, you can’t see them because, well, you are on them.
The views are still pretty cool though. A vast green undulating landscape, almost velvet like, with people ahead, so small they look like ants and their silhouettes on the horizon.
Birling Gap – 5.5 miles in
(or 7.5miles if you took the detour at Cuckmere Haven)
Birling Gap is a coastal hamlet marking the end of the sisters. The area is owned by the National Trust and offers a tourist
As such this is the
If you want to escape the crowds, just continue walking past, along the cliffs. Most people arriving at Birling Gap will hang around in the area or the cliffs either side.
This is actually a good spot if you would like to have a break and eat or drink at the cafe, or even head to the beach.
There are bus stops here, so you have the option to stop/start the Seven Sisters hike at this point. If you choose to start the walk here, then you could tie in the Seven Sisters cliffs with a hike through Friston Forest.
Read more: Birling Gap Friston Forest circular walk
This might be the end of the Seven Sisters, but its not the end of the walk…..
Belle Tout lighthouse
The Belle Tout lighthouse has had an interesting life. It was built in the early
So it wasn’t very good at doing its job of warning passing ships. As such, it was decommissioned in the early
It then became a family home and tea
Due to the cliff erosion it was in danger of falling into the sea and in 1999 was moved back 17 meters from the cliff edge.
It now has new owners who have converted it into a bed and breakfast.
How perfect would that be? Spending the night in a lighthouse. Waking up overlooking the sea and grand white cliffs in morning mistiness. Going for a little sunrise walk along the Seven Sisters before coming back for breakfast. This place is officially on my wishlist.
Note: I have been trying to stay there but it’s always booked out.
Beachy Head – 8 miles
(10 miles with the detour at Cuckmere Haven)
Beachy Head is the stuff of poetry…I mean that literally. Poems have been written about it. The area has also featured in film and television including Harry Potter, James Bond and Black Mirror.
Fun fact: At 162m above sea level, it is the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain.
In the early 1900’s, Eastbourne bought the surrounding land to save it from development….this makes me very happy.
Here you have the cute candy cane coloured Beachy Head lighthouse. Seems rather tiny in comparison to the looming white cliffs.
It was built in the early 1900’s to take over lighthouse duties of the Belle Tout lighthouse.
Fun Fact: It wasn’t always red and white stripes. Originally, it was granite
Beachy Head marks the eastern gateway to the South Downs National Park, but also the end of the cliffs walk (or beginning, depending on which way you go). But you still have a little way to go…
Reaching Eastbourne town
The landscape will now change, featuring a lot more flora and fauna. During summer, the flowers were on show in all their purple and pink glory.
From now on,
I must warn you, from here it is about 3 miles walk to actually reach the station, and can feel never ending. However, if you stick to the coast, you get some wonderful views back towards the cliffs.
Logistics for the walk from Seaford to Eastbourne along the Seven Sisters Cliffs
- Start: Seaford
- Finish: Eastbourne
- How to get there: The Seven Sisters cliffs are easily reachable from London for a day trip hike. See below for more details.
- Distance: 13ish miles station to station, 11ish miles if you don’t take the detour at Cuckmere Haven.
- Options to shorten the walk: You can access the walk (with bus links) between Seaford and Eastbourne via Exceat (Cuckmere Haven), Birling Gap and Beachy Head.
- Time: Allow at least 4 hours station to station. Longer if you plan to stop lots and go at a leisurely pace. I’ve been researching online at how long other people walk the Seven Sisters in. The majority seem to advise 7 hours….It’s never taken me anywhere near this long. But to be safe, allow a full day for the trip.
- Total elevation gain: With all the ups and downs you will have walked uphill nearly 500m.
- Terrain: Grass, dirt trails, pavement, concrete, shingle. Very hilly.
- Difficulty: Moderate. If you are a regular hiker, then the Seven Sisters will be easy for you, if you don’t do
much hillwalking then it will be slightly more challenging.
How to get to the Seven Sisters Cliffs
- Seaford and Eastbourne (the beginning and end of the walk) are both on the Southern train line.
- If coming from London, there are trains from London Victoria and London Bridge to Seaford. You will have to do one change (usually at Lewes), then from Eastbourne
,you can get a direct train back to London Victoria or London Bridge.
- What ticket to get: You should buy a return ticket to Eastbourne, and a single* from Lewes to Seaford. This will cover your return journey from Eastbourne, and your outward journey as far as Lewes, then the single ticket will cover you from Lewes fro Seaford.
*I’ve always wondered whether a return ticket to Eastbourne alone will suffice. You are allowed to break up your journey anywhere along the route of travel. However, Lewes to Seaford isn’t along the London to Eastbourne route. But then again, they are on the same train line. One day I will ask a train person and let your know.
- The Seven Sisters hike is the perfect route to do using the train, because it starts and finishes at a station. However, if you must come by car, this is what I suggest:
- Whether you start the walk in Seaford or Eastbourne, you will either need to get the bus to take you back, or make this a serious hike along the Seven Sisters, and walk back. Walking back isn’t unheard of though. In fact, it has a name…the 14 Sisters. For this, you don’t want to walk the full station to station distance though.
- If starting from Seaford, walk as far as Beachy head, then turn back.
- If starting from Eastbourne, walk as far as Cuckmere Haven then turn back. I would actually recommend continuing a little past Cuckmere Haven and up the hill. The views are really good from there.
- If getting the bus back, the number 12X runs between the two Monday-Saturday. 13X on Sunday (limited service).
Map for the Seven Sisters cliffs walk
Map 1: The Seven Sisters walk route without the detour at Cuckmere Haven
Map two: The Seven Sisters cliffs walk route with the detour at Cuckmere Haven
Click on the little box in the corner to follow the trail (note, I stopped the tracker before getting into Eastbourne centre in the second map. You can just follow the signs when there).
Tips for the Seven Sisters cliffs walk
- I advise not walking next to the cliff edge (see
- Take plenty of water and snacks.
- WEAR SUNSCREEN, and reapply. The worst burns I ever got were on this walk, a few times back. It wasn’t particularly sunny, in fact, it was an overcast day. And I WAS wearing sunscreen. Reluctantly though, it was only because the people I was with insisted on it. My mistake was that I didn’t use a high factor (I refused) and I didn’t reapply.
- Hiking boots are not essential, but I do recommend at least wearing shoes with good grip. The first of the Seven Sisters you hike up is quite steep, and slippage could happen if you aren’t careful.
Disclaimer: If you chose not to wear hiking boots, then I will not be held responsible if injury occurs. There. Just need to cover myself. You never know these days.
Safety when hiking along the Seven Sisters cliffs
The cliffs are very unstable. Someone pointed out to me, if you look ahead at the cliffs, you can even see cracks in them where they are at risk of crumbling.
Here is video footage of that happening. There have been a number of fatalities, of people falling over the edge.
Also, be careful If you chose to go down to beach level and walk under the cliffs, as you will be at risk of falling rocks.
Don’t be scared though, it’s absolutely fine to walk along the Seven Sisters cliffs…Just keep away from the edge.
Swimming along the Seven Sisters cliffs walk
There are a few options if you would like to take a dip in the sea.
- First off you have the shingle beach at Seaford.
- Your second option is at Cuckmere Haven, also a shingle beach.
- Next, you can get in at Birling Gap. More shingle.
- Finally, at Eastbourne, you have a long stretch of, you guessed it, shingle beach.
Yes. A lot of the south coast of England is made up of shingle beach….my least favourite walking terrain.
Other cliff walks I recommend along the South East Coast
If you want more white cliff goodness, then I recommend heading east towards Dover. You could walk from Folkestone to Dover, or from Dover to Deal, both featuring white cliffs and hill walking.
If you want to see the Seven Sisters Cliffs without the massive hike, you could try the Birling Gap to Friston Forest circular.
If you want some white cliffs without the hills, then you could walk the section just west of Seaford from Newhaven to Brighton. Or head to North Kent to do Margate to Ramsgate. Both of these walks have under cliff paths. The white cliffs are slightly less mighty though.
Other walks in the South Downs
You could try out some more sections along the South Downs Way. The one before the Seven Sisters hike is Southease to Seaford. If you are feeling energetic you could tie it together with the Seven Sisters for one mega hike.
Or a bit further back you could try Hassocks to Lewes, and Lewes to Southease. Both featuring the gorgeous rolling hills of the South Downs, village views down below, and lots of cows and sheep.
I LOVE your blogs
Thank you mother. lol
Hi. I’m from Colombia. How a pleasant description of the cliffs walk.
Thank you for your kind words 🙂
Your site and walk breakdowns are fantastic. Thank you! I recently did the seven sisters and tried to do research online first. The messaging out there was contradictory (7 hours?!) and incomplete. So I was terrified the night before that it would be too much for me. I actually found your site after the walk but it was 100% accurate, covered every concern, consideration and query, and would have been so so useful to have in advance- especially for expectation setting and preparedness. I’m now going to try all your other walks because I know how reliable and user friendly your advice is. You’re amazing
oh wow. When I read this I might have cried a little. I’m so glad that my info is able to help, that’s just what I wanted from my website….I do hope though, that my other walks meet expectations haha. I haven’t posted anything new in a while, but I have a whole bunch coming.
Thank you again for such a lovely comment. It really made my day!
Hey Zoe, thank you for this lovely post which was super helpful on our experience yesterday 🙂 this walk took 7 hours for me and my husband because we took a detour in Cuckmere (the tide was high), the weather was very windy but we took many photos&videos and enjoyed the scenery. Can’t wait to try other walks you shared. Many thanks!
Thank you for your lovely message! I am so glad you enjoyed the walk and that I could help. Yes I agree, the scenery is lovely there, I keep going back. I hope my other walks will also be as helpful for you!
I have just returned after a day trip from London to walk the Seven Sisters cliffs. I used this post as my guide and it was perfection!
Oh, I’m so happy the guide was helpful to you! Thank you for your lovely comment 🙂
Thank you for this blog post – very informative and helpful! I also really like the photos you have taken – beautiful tones and colours.
Ahhh, thank you so much 🙂 : ) 🙂
You are so generous.
Taking the time to help others. Super human you are. Xxx
Oh Silvio, that is such a lovely sweet thing for you to say. Thank you 🙂
This was incredibly helpful. The beautiful pictures are inspirational and the practical details make it easy.
Oh I’m so glad you found it useful Claire! Thank you for your comment 🙂
This was such an incredibly helpful blog post! A friend and i did the SS walk last weekend and we literally followed this post step by step to make the most of our experience! thank you for putting in the effort to write such a detailed account of how to walk this trail, super valuable for any first timers!
Hi Joti, thank you so much for your lovely comment. Im so glad you found it helpful!!! This makes me really happy to hear 🙂
A very in depth blog. Thank you i will definitely be doing this walk next week. I hope I can get some stunning g photos like you have.
oooh, you have probably done it already. Hope you had fun…I’m sure you got some great photos!
Thank you so much for your blog post. There were so many helpful details and it really made me feel so much more confident about doing this walk on my own. I think your blog describes the hike beautifully (and accurately!). I had a fantastic time doing this walk today and hope to do it again in the future. Thank you!
Hi Laura, this really makes me so happy that I was able to help 🙂 Im glad you had a good time doing it!
Hi Zoe, with the help and inspiration of your website, I did the Seven Sisters walk yesterday and loved it! What an amazing walk. I’m from London and always travel abroad so this trip opened my eyes to how beautiful the UK is. Your blogs are fantastic, both the words and images. Keep up the great work and I look forward to doing some of the other walks you’ve blogged about.
Hi Hayley, im so glad you enjoyed it! I used to be the same, only going abroad to explore and travel, ignoring England. It was through doing these hikes that I saw how amazing our country is 🙂
Hi Zoe, tackled the Seven Sisters hike yesterday and found your blog so helpful. Beautiful walk, finished off with a G&T at Eastbourne Pier. I would be interested to know which of your trails you would recommend next – similar in length etc.
Thanks for the great blog 😀
Hi Lauren, Im glad I could help! Well, it depends on where you are based and how far you wish to travel. If sticking to the south east, I would recommend the Folkestone/Dover hike. It’s a bit shorter, but has great coastline views. More inland, I would recommend then Ivinghoe Beacon hike. It’s in the Chilterns, has great views, and the walk along the ridgeway towards the chalk white lion is particularly breathtaking. It’s a longer hike too. Definitely the the Devils Dyke hike. It’s also a long one, quite hilly with amazing views.
If you can travel further afield then I would recommend heading to Dorset. The walk along the coastline between Lulworth cove and weymouth is quite similar to the seven sisters with those amazing white cliffs. Its very hilly too. I haven’t written about this one, Its the first hike I ever did in England way before I started this website. Im dying to go back and do it so I can put accurate details on the website. You should find info if you google it though. Im about to publish a walk from Kimmeridge in Dorset, I would recommend this one 100%. Mostly coastline, challenging hills and the best views. Hope this helps!
Thanks for this, simply an amazing post and made my life so much easier, and everything U said resonated with me at every point of my trip. THANK YOU for making my day speacial! loved the hike.
This makes me so happy to hear Nitin, its really made my day that you felt this way 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thank YOU for enjoying my post