A Seven Sisters walk is one of the best things to do in the south of England. The white jigsaw-edge cliffs piece together perfectly with the turquoise sea to create one of the most phenomenal coastal walks in the world.
The most well-known route stretches from Seaford to Eastbourne and covers 22.5 kilometres. However, this is quite a distance – even for the experienced hiker. As such, we’ve put together this guide to show 3 different routes: short, medium and long.
These all start from the same place and cover some of the most spectacular sections of the walk, which means that everyone gets to enjoy a piece of the Seven Sisters Cliffs, regardless of their ability.
In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know before embarking on your coastal adventure (including a map) and let you know what to expect on the day. We’ll also give you some top tips ahead of the hike.
HOW TO USE OUR SEVEN SISTERS WALK GUIDE
The three walks which we cover are colour coded as per the below code. This is to make it easy to understand if the section you’re reading about is relevant to your chosen route. Each walk begins from the same place and initially follows the same trail. For example, those doing the long walk will cover almost all of the trail as the short and medium routes.
WHAT ARE THE SEVEN SISTERS CLIFFS?
The Seven Sisters are a series of seven cliffs that span along the English coastline – each distinguished by a prominent hilltop. The cliffs are extremely rugged from sea erosion and are made from white chalk, which makes them stand out significantly against the English Channel.
WHERE ARE THE SEVEN SISTERS CLIFFS?
The Seven Sisters Cliffs are located in the South Downs National Park in the South of England. They’re located half an hour away from Brighton and reside in the county of East Sussex.
Below is an interactive map with a pin in the exact location.
BEST TIME TO WALK THE SEVEN SISTERS CLIFFS
The best time to hike the Seven Sisters is between late April and early September. Typically, this is when the weather is dry and sunny in the UK. It’s possible to do this walk at other times of the year, but it will only be enjoyable if it isn’t wet and cold.
The earliest that we’ve done this hike is late April and the weather was mild with no wind and it was sweltering hot, even though it looked cloudy.
HOW TO GET TO THE TRAILHEAD OF THE SEVEN SISTERS WALK
Short | medium | long
The quickest and easiest way to reach the trailhead of this walk is by car.
Regardless of whether you’re choosing the short, medium or long route, you’ll need to park in the Seaford Esplanade Car Park.
Where to park for the Seven Sisters walk: BN25 1JT
If you’re heading to the trailhead of this walk by bus, then you’ll need to head to Seaford town centre. From here it is a 10-minute walk to the trailhead.
To figure out which bus to take, we’d recommend using Rome2Rio.
For those visiting by train, you’ll need to head to Seaford Station and from here, it is a 10-minute stroll to the beginning of the walk.
More often than not, you’ll need to catch the train from your starting location to Lewes train station, before getting another train to Seaford.
Again, we’d recommend using Rome2Rio to figure this out as this makes getting from A to B really straightforward.
SEVEN SISTERS WALK DETAILS
DISTANCE OF THE WALK
Short | The distance of the short route is 5.6 km. This is what we’d consider a daily dog walking distance and can be easily completed without taking up a huge chunk of your day.
Medium | The distance of the medium route is 12.1 km. This is a great middle-distance for those willing to spend at least half the day on their feet.
Long | The distance of the long route is 21.8 km. At just over half-marathon distance, this is a lengthy walk. It’s a challenging distance and you’ll need to be prepared to be out for most of the day.
ELEVATION OF THE WALK
Short | The total elevation of the short route is 94 meters. This isn’t a significant elevation overall, however, this is covered within the first couple of kilometres. Most casual walkers can handle this incline without a problem.
Medium | The total elevation of the medium route is 293 meters and you’ll definitely feel this on your legs throughout the walk. Most of these hills are undulating and will provide a good challenge at times. If you’re a novice hiker, this shouldn’t prevent you from taking this trail as it is very manageable with breaks here and there.
Long | The total elevation of the long route is 519 meters. Whilst this is covered over 21.8 km, there are some serious leg-burning hills in there. You’ll see both experienced and novice hikers taking this trail and you’ll definitely sleep well that night if you opt for this route.
DURATION OF THE WALK
Short | Most walkers complete this route in 1-2 hours. It’s a great option for those looking for a relaxed stroll along the coastline whilst enjoying some of the best bits of the longer routes.
Medium | Most walkers complete this route in 3 -4 hours. It’s a fantastic middle-distance walk that provides plenty of time in fresh sea air whilst enjoying a range of coastal and countryside views.
Long | Most walkers complete this route in 4-6 hours. Those who complete the walk in 4 hours are usually pushing on to complete the walk rather than stopping for breaks here and there. This is a full day out for most people and novice walkers should consider allowing even more time if they’re planning to stop for lunch.
DIFFICULTY OF THE WALK
Short | The short route is very easy for the majority of the walkers. The only part which could be considered tough is the first ascent, however, this is fairly short. The remainder of the walk is downhill or flat.
Medium | The moderate route undulates throughout and certainly presents a few challenges along the way. Those looking to enjoy coastal views for the majority of the way will find that the hills can’t really be avoided. However, this provides a great balance for hikers who don’t want to commit to a full day of walking but want to push themselves a little.
Long | The long route is considered moderate overall, however, there are sections of this walk towards the end of the trail that are hard. Completing this trail will mean a long time on your feet and most of the time you’ll either be walking up or down. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced hiker, you’ll undoubtedly feel accomplished once you cross the finish line.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE DAY OF THE SEVEN SISTERS WALK
SEAFORD ESPLANADE TO THE FIRST ASCENT
Short | medium | long
Regardless of which route you take, the coastal hike along the Seven Sisters Cliffs begins in the small village of Seaford.
From the car park, the route leads along Seaford Esplanade, passing colourful beach huts, striped deckchairs and plenty of rowing boats.
The concrete esplanade quickly comes to an end as you head up your first hill. This is a mild ascent and a good way to warm up for what’s to come.
To the left, you’ll see a golf course which has a prime position atop the hill with sea views. On the right, you’ll find the sea, which gets further and further away as you climb higher and higher along the trail.
THE FIRST WHITE SEVEN SISTERS CLIFF
Short | medium | long
Once the route begins to flatten, you’ll be led away from the edge of the cliff. You’ll see little more than fields in front of you, however, if you look behind then you’ll see some fantastic views of Seaford Beach and beyond.
After you’ve just about caught your breath from the initial climb, you’ll take a short descent before arriving at the first of several spectacular cliff edges. In our opinion, this is one of the best and most dramatic edges of the walk – so be sure to make the most of it.
DOWNHILL TO THE BEACH
Short | medium | long
As you continue along the trail, you’ll be making a steady descent. This continues for quite some time and the views over the English Channel are excellent.
Once you make it to the base of the hill, you’ll see some steps which lead down to a cobbled beach. If the tide is out, then you’ll be able to roam around the small beach as the ginormous white cliffs tower above you. This is a great opportunity to gain a different perspective and this really shows off the scale of what you’re conquering.
HIKING TO CUCKMERE HAVEN
Short | medium | long
It’s then time for a quick ascent, followed by a descent to Cuckmere Haven. This is a stunning part of the walk which shows the remaining Seven Sisters cliffs in all their glory. Yet, an estuary will stand between you and the next ascent.
Regardless of whether the tide is in or out, you’ll need to walk away from the seafront for at least a kilometre to find a bridge. This is the only way to continue the coastal walk.
For those who’re choosing to do one of the short Seven Sisters walks, then this is where the trail will divert back to the Seaford, either by walking or by bus.
If you’re walking then you’ll head through a number of fields that ultimately arrive back at Seaford Esplanade. If you’d prefer to get the bus, then you’ll continue on to Exceat and catch the number 12 bus back to Seaford. The walking details which we referred to earlier in the guide assume that you’d be getting the bus.
ONWARDS AND UPWARDS TO THE WILLIAM CHARLES CAMPBELL MONUMENT
medium | long
For those who are continuing the Seven Sisters hike, you’ll continue along the trail to embark on your next ascent.
This is one of the longest ascents of the walk, but once you’ve made it to the top, you’ll be praised with many rugged white cliffs and astonishing sea views. This summit is where most hikers will take a well-earned break with some refreshments.
After a quick break, the route leads up and down multiple times before arriving at the William Charles Campbell monument. Campbell previously owned this section of the walk, however, he very generously donated it to the National Trust in the following years.
If you’ve opted for the medium-length route, then it’s here that you’ll turn left and head away from the sea toward the tiny village of Friston. This is a peaceful section of the walk that covers fields and passes a wealth of grazing wildlife.
Once you’ve arrived at the main road in Friston, you’ll immediately find the bus stop and you’ll need to catch the number 12 bus back to Seaford.
TO THE BELLE TOUTE LIGHTHOUSE
If you’re looking to challenge yourself on distance then you’ll continue to hug the coastline for a little while longer. The route continues to undulate until you reach Birlington Gap, and from here the route intensifies significantly.
As you move away from Birlington Gap, you’ll head up a steep hill that’s not too dissimilar to some of the others which you’ve completed, but perhaps feels much worse as you’ve already covered around 13 kilometres of hilly terrain.
Upon arrival at the summit, you’ll be met by Belle Toute Lighthouse – a quirky bed and breakfast which takes prime location.
A CHALLENGING ASCENT AND THE FINAL STRETCH TO EASTBOURNE
As you descend away from the Belle Toute Lighthouse, you’ll quickly reach the base of the most challenging ascent yet.
Not only is this the longest ascent at roughly 1 kilometre long, but it is also the steepest, with the gradient hitting heights of 18%.
This section of the walk is unforgiving, to say the least, but the views and sense of accomplishment once you reach the summit quickly wash away the pain.
Once you’ve made it to the top, you’ll be able to see the red and white striped Beachy Head Lighthouse poking out of clear seawater below. This is a picturesque sight and signifies that you’re almost on the home straight of the walk.
After a welcome kilometre of flatness, it’s then time to descend into Eastbourne.
The descent is harsh and arguably more challenging than the ascent, with a -31% gradient at times. If you’re carrying some poles, then now is the time to use them.
After one more small hill to push you one step further, the route finishes with a 2-kilometre gentle descent into Eastbourne.
From Eastbourne, you can either catch the train or the number 12 bus back to Seaford.
SEVEN SISTERS HIKE ROUTE MAPS
We’ve created a route map for each of these walks on our favourite platform for mapping out hikes – Alltrails. We’d recommend creating an Alltrails account and saving the map to your favourites so that you can refer back to it on the day.
TIPS FOR WALKING THE SEVEN SISTERS CLIFFS
CAFES OPEN LATE ON A BANK HOLIDAY IN SEAFORD
If you’re heading on this hike on a bank holiday and were hoping to pick up some breakfast in a cute cafe beforehand, then unfortunately you’ll be disappointed.
You’ll find that almost everywhere is closed and instead, you’ll have to head to the local supermarket.
As such, if you’re coming from a bigger location such as Brighton, then we’d recommend grabbing some breakfast from there instead.
PICK UP SOME HIKING FUEL
With all the elevation on this hike, you’ll no doubt need a snack or two to see you through to the end of the journey.
You’ll also want to back plenty of liquids to stay hydrated throughout the day. The best place to pick something up is Morrisons.
If you’re walking from the bus stop or train station to the trailhead of the walk, then this will be on the way.
ALTERNATIVE CAR PARKS
If the Seaford Esplanade Car Park is full, then thankfully, there are some alternative places where you can park for the day.
However, you’ll need to bear in mind that this will add additional time to your walk.
PACK YOUR SWIMSUIT
Needless to say, there are countless opportunities along this trail where you can head down to the beach for a swim.
You’ll also find that many people will be taking a dip or paddleboarding in the estuary.
Regardless of which sounds better, if you’re hiking on a hot day, a splash in the seawater will be just what you need.
CHECK THE BUS TIMETABLE AHEAD OF YOUR SEVEN SISTERS WALK
If you’ve opted for one of the routes which require a bus journey back to Seaford, then we’d recommend taking note of some of the bus journeys ahead of your walk. This way, you’ll be able to make a rough plan of when you need need to arrive at the bus stop, rather than turning up and having to wait 30 minutes for the next bus!
EAT LUNCH ALONG THE ROUTE
- The Cuckmere Inn – Short | medium | long
Regardless of which route you choose to take, you’ll pass The Cuckmere Inn – a lovely country pub. It’s located at the end of the estuary, which will be the finishing point if you’re taking the short route combined with the bus back to Seaford. If you’re taking the medium route, this will be about the halfway point, and if you’re taking the long route, then you’ll probably want to push on to one of the following options.
- National Trust – Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters cafe – long
If you’re committed to taking the long route, then you’ll arrive here after around 13 kilometres. This is conveniently located just after the halfway mark and is situated on the cliff edge overlooking the sea. You’ll need to bear in mind this is a cafe rather than a pub, so you’ll have a limited menu here compared to the other two.
- The Beachy Head – long
The Beachy Head is an excellent country pub which despite being set back from the cliff edge, still captures sea views. You’ll need to venture off the trail for a few minutes to dine here, however, it couldn’t come at a better time. You’ll have just climbed the steepest hill of the walk and be deserving of a well-earned meal before finishing off the last 4 kilometres of the walk.
DON’T WEAR TOO MANY LAYERS
The wonderful Seven Sisters are, by nature, very hilly. And, as such, those looking to tackle them should be warned that this is going to be a sweaty hike.
We’re usually the type of hikers who overdo it when it comes to packing layers, but this is one that you don’t need to bother too much.
If you’re planning to have a picnic by the coast, then it’s worth throwing in a light layer to avoid the wind chill.
DON’T FORGET TO WEAR SUNCREAM
Being by the coast, the reflection of the sea makes it all the more likely that you’ll catch a sunburn along this trail.
We’d always recommend that you wear suncream when you’re spending time outdoors, but you’ll want to be extra careful on this occasion.
WHERE TO STAY
Seaford is the smallest of the three locations where we recommend staying.
It’s a small seaside town with plenty of independent coffee shops, as well as a large grocery store to pick your essentials.
There is a stone beach with plenty of beach huts and deck chairs to relax on, however, the main advantage of this location is that it is where the trail begins.
Brighton is the largest out of the three recommendations and is full of atmosphere and things to do.
It’s roughly 30 minutes from the start of this walk and is a great option for those looking to combine a seaside city break with a dose of nature.
Whilst there are plenty of attractions in Brighton, spending the afternoon at the beach followed by a trip to the arcades is something which we highly recommend.
Eastbourne is smaller than Brighton but larger than Seaford. It’s a great in-between-sized town that’s got a good atmosphere and is friendly on the budget.
For those taking the long walk along the Seven Sisters Cliffs, It’s possible to begin your walk from Eastbourne as opposed to Seaford.
However, the views are arguably not as great. Alternatively, you could catch the bus to the beginning of the trail and walk back.
EXPLORE BEYOND THE SEVEN SISTERS WALK
Whichever Seven Sisters walk you choose, you’re guaranteed to witness at least a few dramatic chalk cliffs that stand tall beside the sea.
If you’re looking for other great walks in the UK, then we’ve got plenty more guides to share with you. These can be found below.
- North Devon walks/ dramatic coastlines, waterfalls and cobbled streets
- Best Cotswolds walks / honey-stone cottages, rolling hills and historical landmarks
- Best walks in the Brecon Beacons / scenic views, hundreds of waterfalls and lots of wild swimming
Stay Wild Travels.
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