As much as we love London, sometimes it’s necessary to escape the urban sprawl. Good news is that it doesn’t always need to break the bank. Instead of opting for a weekend trip that ends up costing the earth, choose a day trip in the countryside. It’s surprisingly rejuvenating and often enough to recharge the batteries.
My friends and I recently felt like going on a substantial hike near London, but only for the day. Once we started doing some research, it proved that there are hundreds of options! We had to weigh up travel time and costs, trail distances and general logistics. After considering Box Hill (too close) and the White Cliffs of Dover (too far), we settled on the legendary Seven Sisters cliff hike – dubbed the best trail in southeast England. And what a good choice we made!
Why Seven Sisters?
Well, the scenery is simply spectacular! Forming part of the South Downs in East Sussex, these chalk-white cliffs can be admired on a series of cliff paths that stretch between the coastal towns of Seaford and Eastbourne. We walked on lush rolling hills, along a gentle river (ideal for kayaking) and over pebbly beaches. The turquoise blue of the English Channel makes the cliffs stand out even more! If you’re brave, like some of the guys in our group, head on in for a swim.
Level & Duration
We started in Seaford and walked along the cliff path towards the lighthouse in Eastbourne. It’s a 22.3 kilometre trek with manageable ups and downs. Allow yourself at least 6-7 hours to walk the whole route at a leisurely pace. Alternatively, you could easily opt to trail run the route. Judging by the wide variety of walkers along the way, I’d say that this is a medium level hike.
How to Get there?
Regular trains leave from Victoria station to Seaford with a changeover at Lewes station. The total travel time (one way) is just under 1.5 hours. We paid 18GBP one way per person. If you walk all the way to Eastbourne, you can catch the train back to Victoria station from there. A bonus is that you can shorten the route as you please, thanks to the no.12 bus that stops regularly along the main road between Seaford and Eastbourn. Check www.thetrainline.com for train tickets.
Food on the Trail
We stopped at the Cuckmere Inn for a pub lunch – it’s about 6 kilometres into the walk and has a lovely outside area where everything from burgers to fish and chips is served. There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from in Seaford and Eastbourne, but I’d recommend packing a picnic and finding a spot overlooking the cliffs.
For the perfect weekend adventure from London, read our guide on climbing Snowdon in Wales.