The Seven Sisters walk or, more specifically, the Seaford to Eastbourne walk is one of my absolute favourite day hikes! The views are so unique and continual and the walk itself is challenging while also being easy to navigate so you can switch off for most of the way and breath in the ocean air.
The hike starts in Seaford train station and finishes at Eastbourne train station about 13.8 miles later. Following a defined path, you walk on the cliff-top, almost entirely keeping the ocean in sight. There are many up and downs on this cliff-top hike although the climbs are never steep or too long.
Other great features of the Seaford to Eastbourne walk is the fact you can get to the start and end via train (especially easy from London) and also that there is a promise of ice cream en route and an ocean dip and chips at the end.
Is the Seaford to Eastbourne walk hard?
Covering 13.8miles is a challenge so the distance does need to be accounted for if you are taking on the Seaford to Eastbourne walk. Other challenges include unpredictable weather and sea breeze (on a windy day you’ll have strong winds on one side of your face all day) and a lot of exposure which means you’ll be in the sun non-stop if hot.
Also, this walk is made up of continual small hills so you will spend most of the day climbing up and down as you make it over the hills. Although small hills, they can get tedious by the end!
Other than that though this is a relatively easy hike. It’s nearly impossible to get lost. The path is easy to follow and comfortable underfoot. And there are no difficult climbs. You’ll also get a scattering of pubs and ice cream vans (in season and especially at weekends) for toilet and sugar breaks.
Note that if arriving and leaving by train there are no clear get-outs en route except to call for a taxi to collect you and take you to Eastbourne station.
How long does it take to do the Seven Sisters hike & when to go?
I usually aim for 6-7 hours hiking (not including breaks of which I like to take plenty of to soak in the views!). This is at a leisurely pace, although a fit person can cover the distance quicker. If you account for 10 hours this will be enough for the hike and a few breaks en route….plus a celebratory drink at the end.
Although the hike can be done all year round, doing it on a sunny day really is the best so you can make the most of the ocean views.
Travelling to and from Seaford to Eastbourne
If coming from London there is a train from Victoria – Seaford that takes 1hour 47minutes changing in Lewes. I suggest then purchasing an open return from Eastbourne to London Victoria as these trains are regular throughout the day (around 30 minutes direct).
Both the start and end can also be accessed easily by train coming from Brighton.
If driving you can park in Seaford then catch the Bus or taxi from Eastbourne to Seaford at the end of the day. Buses are infrequent and vary so check times in advance.
I usually aim to start the hike by 9am to give me plenty of time before it gets dark.
What to wear & pack for doing a Seven Sisters Walk?
Always check the weather forecast the day before so you know what to expect. Clothes wise I wear gym gear (leggings and a top). Don’t wear jeans or cotton clothes that won’t dry if they get wet. Most important is footwear. Because the ground is even underfoot, a pair of hiking shoes, trail shoes or sturdy sports trainers will work fine although you can wear boots if preferred.
If there’s any chance of rain, bring a waterproof top and bottom. Even on a sunny day, the sea wind (which will be with you all day) can be cold. You’ll want to bring a warm layer and I’d definitely recommend a warm hat (to protect your ears) if it’s an especially windy day. Fleeces make a great lightweight and warm layer you can throw on for rest stops. Always pack sunglasses, sunhat and sunscreen regardless of the forecast as you are very exposed on this hike if the sun does make an appearance.
In your bag you should have:
- At least 2 litres of drinking water (more on a hot day. Although there are a couple of places you can fill up en route, I prefer not to rely on these in case they are closed)
- Plenty of high energy snacks & lunch
- Small first aid kit with blister kit
- Fully charged phone
- Sun protection: hat, sunglasses and sunscreen
- Warm layers
- Money & train tickets
- Waterproofs (if needed)
- Flask with a hot drink (optional but nice to have on a cold day)
Step by step: the Seven Sisters walk from Seaford to Eastbourne
Firstly, I want to start by reiterating how easy this hike is to follow. The path is well defined and, for the most part, all you need to do is keep the ocean on your right. You can easily use your phone and an app like Google Apps to keep you on track.
There is one section where you will need to cut in-land and you’ll also need to be able to get from the station to the start and the end of the hike. This step by step visual guide will make sure you don’t go wrong…
Step 1: Getting from Seaford Train station to the start of the hike
Leaving the train station you want to head south to Frankies Beach Cafe, a 5-minute walk away. Once you reach the beach promenade, walk along it (east) towards the first of the Seven Sisters hike hills which you will see clearly in the distance.
You’ll see a track that goes up the hill near to the cliff edge. Get on that and you are at the start of the Seven Sisters hike. Keep following the track as it goes up and down the cliffs.
Step 2: Turning away from the ocean
The track will eventually come to an end and start to verge left. Ahead there is a channel of water that means you cannot cross and reach the next hill. This is the part of the walk where you need to cut away from the ocean walking along a path that follows next to the channel of water.
Sometimes at low tide there is an option to cross the channel of water (if you are brave enough to take on the stepping stones and risk falling/getting a bit wet!).
After a short walk, you will reach a pub (good place for a pit stop) and a small bridge. Cross the bridge and then re-join the small path which is now on the other side of the channel of water. You will be following this back towards the direction of the ocean.
Look out for the signpost. Here, follow the arrow that takes you on the South Downs Way (towards the direction of the ocean). This path will go up and over a hill. At the top, you’ll be able to see and rejoin the cliff edge path again to continue on your way.
Step 3: Continuing on the cliff-edge
Keep following the path up and over, up and over….you get the point!
Step 4: Arriving in Eastbourne
Eastbourne will come into view in the distance. Once you’ve climbed your final hill it will take you down through a green field to a gate that leads into town.
If you’ve had enough, you can shave 10-15 minutes off your walking time by taking a short cut through town to the train station. My recommendation though is to carry on straight, walking along the promenade. It provides a great opportunity to stop and soak your feet in the water or go for a swim and is the only part of the day where you get to be on a beach.
Make sure you don’t miss the turning down Wilmington Gardens. Note that it’s a bit of climb to get to Eastbourne train station so make sure you have enough energy to get to the end! There are lots of restaurants, pubs and chippys on the way to grab a celebratory meal and drink.
Top tips for the Seaford to Eastbourne walk
Hopefully this guide has inspired you to take on this famous Seven Sisters walk. You won’t be disappointed! If you do intend to do the hike, here are some top tips:
- You can do the walk backwards from Eastbourne to Seaford (just reverse my instructions). I prefer the other way as the views get more spectacular throughout the hike and you can finish by paddling in the ocean. Plus there are more pubs and restaurants in Eastbourne to stock up post-hike
- The cliff edge is incredibly dangerous and each year people unintentionally (as well as intentionally) lose their lives by going over. Because of erosion, it is not safe to go right up to the edge at any point on the hike so don’t be tempted
- Book your train tickets in advance to save some money and go for an open-ended ticket if you can so you don’t need to rush your hike or end up with too much time at the end
- The beaches in Eastbourne are pebble so if you want a swim or paddle, bringing a pair of water shoes makes it a lot more comfortable
- It can be a crazy busy hike on a warm summers weekend (especially around Beachhead although you’ll have crowded the whole way). Try to go mid-week or off-season if you can
- This walk makes up part of the South Downs Way. If you want a larger challenge you could take on the trail in one go or do it section by section, finishing in Eastbourne. Check out my guide for more details on walking the South Downs Way
- For something a bit fancier than a plate of chips at the end of the hike I can recommend Skylark (not far from Eastbourne station) and their amazing food
- Bring cash with you as a some of the small food and drink places you pass don’t accept card
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