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The Coastal Trail

The Coastal Trail

Blow away the cobwebs with a refreshing coastal walk.

The Heritage Coast walk along the South Downs Way takes in the hugely impressive chalk cliffs and cliff-top lighthouse at Beachy Head. Look inland across the gentle, rolling chalk downs and valleys from the UK’s highest coastal point on the iconic Seven Sisters.

Birling Gap along the Seven Sisters is one of the longest stretches of unspoilt coastline in the south. Here you will find access to the beach beneath the cliff tops, a marine nature reserve and the Belle Tout lighthouse. Pop into the Visitor Information Centre, where you can learn more about the landscape, ancient inhabitants, shipwrecks and smugglers. Then relax over a well-deserved hot cuppa and a delicious slice of cake before you return to the bus.

Getting around
Distance 5 miles with optional 2.1 mile return route to start point
Duration All day allowing for travel time and a visit to Birling Gap Visitor Centre
Grade Energetic
Directions – Train The train from Lewes railway station to Seaford takes around 20 minutes.
Directions – Bus Brighton & Hove Coaster 12 from Seaford takes around 20 minutes to the South Downs Way.
Directions – Walk
  1. Alight the bus at the South Downs Way and follow the waymarkers along the South Downs Way to Beachy Head and onto Birling Gap.
  2. Take the chalk track up towards the houses on your left past the entrance to the car park at Birling Gap.
  3. Follow the blue bridleway signs up the hill and take the first path that drops down the side of the hill and straight onto the village.
  4. Cross the village green by the Tiger Inn, turn right through the car park and left on the road out of the village to return to the main road and the bus stop. You will find more detailed directions on the optional circular route on the Heritage Coast walks guide.

Useful Information

All of these views can be accessed throughout the year as the drainage provided by the chalk soil and the springy turf covering the downland make walking relatively easy and safe whatever the weather.

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Enjoy a longer bracing hike along the coast. Starting at the Seven Sisters Visitor Centre, the hike takes you up the South Downs Way with fantastic views of the meandering Cuckmere River and Cuckmere Haven, along the iconic Seven Sisters all the way past Birling Gap and Beachy Head to Eastbourne. Download Walks on the South Downs Way for full directions and bus and train information.


Stay longer in Lewes and take the inland Heritage Coast Walk along the South Downs Way through Friston Forest and alongside Lullington Heath. Explore the pretty historic town of Alifriston and follow the banks of the meandering Cuckmere River towards the coast on your return circuit. Look out for the White Horse of Litlington carved into the chalk in 1924.



"The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."