Saturday, July 5, 2014

Watch Out for the Cliff: South Downs Hike!

Yesterday, Nicole and I split up as I traveled East along the southern coast of England to the beautiful South Downs. This was one of the excursions sponsored by the International Summer School so I went with a group of 30 other students, a couple Sussex student staff, and a SO Sussex outdoors guide. We hopped on a chartered bus for the 45 minute bus ride to the trailhead. The bus ride was actually really nice as I was on the top level of the double-decker and got to watch the rolling hills of the countryside go by as well as cute little neighborhoods. 

When we arrived at the trailhead, we were faced with a daunting ascent up this hill.
It may not look that bad, but it was exhausting and the first of many neverending climbs.
The hike took about five hours and was said to be 17km (10.5 miles) but with constant, steep ups and downs. It was a gorgeous day too and perfect for hiking!

The hike began on the south-western edge of Eastbourne, just a short distance away from Beachy Head. Beachy Head is home to the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain (536 feet) and has also played many roles in wars throughout the years. There was the Second Battle of Beachy Head during WWI and during WWII, a radio communication station were set in the area.

It also served as a station for the air force and there was a plaque
that said how this was the last part of the UK that many soldiers saw.
At Beachy Head there is a cute little lighthouse way down below.

You can see our starting point of Eastbourne in the distance!

These lovely signs were everywhere to tell us that there were cliffs.
Our guide told us not to get too close to the edge because they are constantly crumbling.

Lighthouse Selfie
(it was so windy I eventually had to take my Rays hat off)

Belle Tout lighthouse (built in 1831) which is now a private residence
and has been moved slightly inland because the cliffs keep crumbling.
For lunch we stopped at Birling Gap which had a staircase down to the pebbly beach below. I had packed a lunch so I picniced on the rocks and even decided to dip my feet in the freezing cold water with some of my hiking buddies. The water was somewhat bearable but the rocks were so painful on our feet that it was rather difficult to walk. The beach also provided us with a perfect view of the Seven Sisters cliffs which was our next challenge.

You can see the Seven Sisters in the distance!

I guess I did go to the beach on the 4th of July!

We hiked across the top of the famous Seven Sisters cliffs which were exhausting but really impressive and provided us with beautiful views!

There was no distinct trail to hike along
(except the less grassy areas where most people tended to walk)
so we all just wandered along the edge of the cliffs.

Seven Sisters (and some birds)

After hiking up and down all of the Seven Sisters cliffs (and actually there is a new one being formed so sort of eight sisters or maybe 7 and 3/4 sisters), we headed inland along the Cuckmere river to a pub where we waited for our bus to take us back to campus.

You can see the river we followed in the distance.

There were lots of sheep!
We also constantly had to walk through special gates when hiking
which prevented the animals from traveling too far.
We arrived back at campus around 7pm after an exhausting day.
Still, it was the Fourth of July so Nicole and I headed to the pub (which was having a mini American event) and watched the Brazil vs. Colombia World Cup Match!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful photos! Great hike.