Ever felt like going out on a sunny day but didn’t know where to go? Sometimes, the best adventures are right around the corner, and we don’t even realize it. I’ve traveled a lot, but never did a road trip in England before.

And this is how, suddenly, I ended up going on a road trip to Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters. It was all unplanned and exciting. I used this cool tool from The AA called Sat Nav Roulette. You just need a car, some good company (for me, it was my dog Balou), and a day to explore.

It’s a really beautiful place on the coast, with these big cliffs called the Seven Sisters. And if you don’t like where it suggests, you can just pick again!

I was so happy with Birling Gap. It’s a fantastic spot to see, especially if you love the sea and pretty views. Want to know more? Here’s my road trip in English, visiting Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters!

Introduction to Birling Gap & Seven Sisters

Where are Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters?

Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters are picturesque natural landmarks located in East Sussex, on the southern coast of England.

They’re known for their dramatic white cliffs and breathtaking coastal views, they are iconic symbols of Britain’s natural beauty.

The area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, photographers, and anyone seeking to experience one of England’s most spectacular coastal landscapes.

How to Get to Birling Gap?

Reaching Birling Gap is pretty easy and straightforward. If you’re driving, it’s accessible from the A259 between Eastbourne and Seaford; just follow the signs to Birling Gap.

For public transport, on the other hand, there are buses from Eastbourne and Brighton that stop nearby. The closest train stations are Eastbourne and Seaford, and from there, you can take a bus or taxi.

Opening Times

Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters are open to the public year-round, which is very convenient.

However, it’s important to note that specific facilities, like the visitor center and cafes, have varying opening times.

Generally, they are open daily from around 10 am to 5 pm, and the toilet are open until 6 PM.

The natural area itself is always accessible, but I recommend visiting during daylight hours to fully enjoy the views.

What to Expect at Birling Gap

I live on the South Coast on England, close to Portsmouth. And to be fair, I have explored a lot of the coastline. But never Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters.

The National Trust describes it as “An ever-changing landscape, where the South Downs meet the sea”. It’s just that, and a truly stunning spot.

It’s close to Eastbourne and not far from Brighton, and it would honestly be a crime to visit either and not check out this spot. Birling Gap acts as a starting point; it is home to a visitor centre and the start of many of the trails (read below for more).

From here, you can access the pebble beach (dog-friendly for responsible dog owners) and the remarkable Seven Sisters. You can also walk the trail up to the Beachy Head Lighthouse, passing the Belle Tout Lighthouse and many other spectacular viewpoints along the way.

But please be careful not to go too close to the cliff-edges, there are warnings, but I saw some people seriously close. That selfie is absolutely not worth the risk.

Especially when you do not know how much erosion has occurred in that spot, or if you’re on an overhang. You also need to keep your dog on a lead at all time near the cliffs.

Seven Sisters

The Seven Sisters refers to the majestic chalk cliffs that run from Cuckmere Haven to Birling Gap. It has a fascinating geological history that stretches back to the time of the dinosaurs to the time of mammoths (some 84+ millions year ago).

The short version is since the end of the last ice age, there was a subsequent rise in sea levels (prior to the ice age it was 200 metres lower).

It’s around the time Britain split away from Europe and the English Channel was formed. Who would have thought we were about to split away again, in the form of Brexit!

The cliffs are constantly changing today, there is a photo of where the land was only 100 year ago.

It’s eroding by one metre per year through cliff falls and landslides, which can happen at any time hence the safety advice below. That’s what makes it such a fascinating landscape, it changes so much in just a few years.

Grab a packed lunch: at the Beehive on the Green, an independent delicatessen and café with award-winning local bread and cheese. If you don’t want to take your lunch away, enjoy it overlooking the green.

Birling Gap Walks

You are quite literally spoilt for choice when it comes to walking at Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters. You can start with a few of the easier and family friendly routes or tag it onto something that includes more of the South Downs Way (a 100-mile route that runs from Winchester).

The first and shortest family friendly path takes you East towards the Belle Tout Lighthouse. Here, you can choose if you want to turn left through the fields and back (taking around 1 hour), or continue on to the Beachy Head Lighthouse (which I recommend).

The other suggestion is heads west from Birling Gap to Exceat and takes around 2 hours. You have fantastic views over the Seven Sisters and can also continue that one up to Seaford Head (my sunset tip below).

If you’re looking for a walk that’s got a bit of everything, the Birling Gap walk from the Tiger Inn is a great choice. Start at the Tiger Inn in East Dean, a cozy and welcoming spot, perfect for a pre-walk coffee or a post-walk meal.

The walk itself takes you through lovely countryside, then leads to the stunning views of the cliffs at Birling Gap.

It’s not too tough, so it’s good for most walkers. The scenery is something special, especially on a clear day, and you’ll end up at the cliffs feeling like you’ve seen some of the best views in England.

My top tip is to get to Seaford Head for sunset (or sunrise), there are incredible views over the Seven Sisters and Cuckmere Valley. But it’s not your traditional sunset spot, because the sun sets behind you, and it was the colours that made it so spectacular.

During a sunny day it just doesn’t look the same, and in the evening, it was so quiet with most of the visitors gone for the day. It would also look amazing at sunrise, if you have the chance. Please note that Seaford head is a Local Nature Reserve, and part of the Sussex Heritage Coast. It homes many nationally rare and significant species of plants, birds and insects.

Tips for Dog Owners & General Safety

Firstly, responsible dog owners are very welcome at Birling Gap and Seven Sisters. They are welcome in cafés, shops and the visitor centre. However, this is a sensitive landscape and National Park and it needs to be protected.

Here are some of my tips, alongside some from the National Trust.

  • Always keep your dog on a lead along the cliff top walks
  • Always consider any wildlife and other dogs before letting your dog run off the lead. Such as sheep (they may be about to lamb) and ground nesting birds (such as skylarks).
  • Always pick up after your dog and use the dog waste bins. I always carry doggy poo bags.
  • Always carry water and a bowl or cup to drink out of, especially in hot weather. Check the weather before you go.
  • Keep an eye out for local notices advising of certain precautions during the season
  • Stay away from the base of cliffs: rock falls can happen.
  • Be aware of the tides on the beach. It is possible to get cut off by the incoming tide or forced up against the cliffs in some areas.

Conclusion About Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters

But with all these reasons, 1000 of species of plants, an abundance of wildlife and activities such as rock pooling for the kids. It’s an amazing place to visit.

Please put on your list for the south coast, and make sure you let me know how you found it.

*My trip to Birling Gap was sponsored by the The AA. Nonetheless, all the photos and opinions are (as always) my own, and quite simply this area is beautiful, and I (and Balou) loved it!

One thought on “Road Trip in England: Birling Gap & Seven Sisters in 2024

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