Sussex walk at Seven Sisters cliffs and Friston Forest
PUBLISHED: 10:41 16 May 2017 | UPDATED: 10:41 16 May 2017
Enjoy wide seascapes and woodland on this circular walk along the Seven Sisters cliffs and through Friston Forest with Hazel Sillver
Perhaps the most iconic landmark in Sussex, the Seven Sisters is a series of chalk cliffs that abuts the English Channel between Seaford and Eastbourne. Running east from Cuckmere Haven, they rise and fall like white waves, finishing at Birling Gap. Each is a gradually eroding dry valley in the South Downs hills; the chalk being eaten away by the sea at the base of each cliff means that the top section can erode suddenly – because of this, it’s important to stay well away from the cliff edges. There are seven rises that form the Seven Sisters: Haven Brow, Short Brow, Rough Brow, Brass Point, Flagstaff Point, Flat Hill, and Baily’s Hill; but an eighth sister (Went Hill Brow) is slowly forming as the cliffs are eaten away by the ocean.
Where to refuel
Saltmarsh Kitchen (01323 870218; saltmarshfarmhouse.co.uk; BN25 4AD) at Exceat, just by the car park, is open daily and serves breakfast, coffee, lunches, and afternoon tea. If you fancy a pub lunch, head to The Tiger Inn in East Dean (01323 423209; BN20 0DA) or The Plough & Harrow in Litlington (01323 870632; ploughandharrowlitlington.co.uk; BN26 5RE).
Distance: Seven miles (11km) – two-and-a-half hours to walk.
Terrain: Lots of up and down; mixture of grass, chalk, and woodland paths.
Where to park: In the Seven Sisters Country Park car park at Exceat on Litlington Road, just off the A259. There is also a car park at Stage 9
1. From the car park, cross the A259 and walk east along the pavement, past another car park on the right, and go through the gate. Then go through a second gate on your left and head uphill on the South Downs Way. When you reach the signpost, maintain direction on the South Downs Way.
2. Go through the gate and head right, following the South Downs Way diagonally downslope across a field.
3. Go through the gate, then head straight on through the next gate. Walk along the wide chalk path, then head left at the signpost following the South Downs Way. Go through the gate, up some steps. Ignore the next gate, and instead head up the grassy path, with fencing on your right.
4. Ignore the path leading right. The path curves around and leads upslope.
5. The path leads through a gate. Ignore the next gate on your right and head straight on towards a signpost. At the signpost, head east along the clifftops. Dogs must be put on leads. Stay well clear of the cliff edges, which can erode suddenly. The path dips and rises, and takes you through a gate.
6. Go through the gate and walk downslope. Ignore the path leading left.
7. At the top of this rise, take the grassy path left that leads inland opposite the Sarsen Stone monument at Flagstaff Point.
8. Head through the gate and walk on the grassy path that leads diagonally through a field.
9. The path leads past a clump of hawthorn trees on your left, then past gorse scrub. Join the lane, pass over the cattlegrid, and walk through the car park and past houses.
10. After the pond cross the main road and veer slightly left, immediately taking the narrow path into woodland. The way then divides – head straight on, along the left-hand way, which soon leads downslope. The path divides again – continue straight on down the steep slope.
11. A path joins from the right – ignore this and go straight ahead.
12. After the red marked post, the way divides – maintain direction straight ahead.
13. The path merges with another path, and leads you to a lane. Head right along the lane until you reach two narrow paths headed left into the woods. Take the first, left-hand option, which heads west.
14. Eventually the path divides into three – take the middle path. On hitting the lane, head left, walking past the houses of Westdean on your right.
15. At the second signpost, before the pond, head left up steep steps. At the top of the steps maintain direction until you reach a wall. Go over the wall, through the gate, and downhill across the field. Head through the kissing gate, then veer right, walking along the brick path, past the visitor centre, back to the car.