Day out: Cuckmere Haven to Birling Gap, East Sussex

This clifftop ramble, sandwiched between the beaches at Cuckmere Haven and Birling Gap, is the ultimate way to combine walking for both fitness and mental wellness

Coastal cliffs and beach at sunrise

We are blessed in the British Isles to have such stunning coastlines, and we are even more fortunate that most of them are accessible. So why bother with paying for a gym membership when you have the great outdoors as your playground? 

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Snow on cliffs by the sea
Quiet shores: Seven Sisters is one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on the south coast of England/Credit: Tolga Tezcan, Getty

Seven Sisters Country Park

If you’re visiting Brighton or Eastbourne, I recommend a winter walk through Seven Sisters Country Park. Here, brisk sea breezes refresh your mind, rippling dazzling-white chalk cliffs test your cardio fitness and amazing beach and ocean vistas provide the ultimate setting for an open-air yoga session.

With its exposed edges and seven clifftop summits (an eighth peak was created by marine erosion), this is one of the UK’s most picturesque stretches of coastline. Rare plants and flowers can be seen on the chalk grasslands and migrating birds abound.  

Bending river on coast
Cuckmere River meandering through Seven Sisters Park Cuckmere Haven/Credit: oversnap, Getty

Walk from Seaford

Starting from Seaford train station, head east past the pebble beach, oxbow lakes and vibrant, brackish marshes of Cuckmere Haven (mouth of the River Cuckmere), and on to your first climb, Haven Brow. On a serene winter’s day, the views across the bay are spectacular. 

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From here the path dips and rises to Short Brow, Rough Brow, Brass Point, Flagstaff Brow, Baileys Hill and Went Hill, before finally reaching Birling Gap, where rockpools and crashing waves await. Reach the beach via stairs at the southern end of the car park. There are cafés, toilets and visitor centres all along the route, and if you don’t fancy retracing your steps, the 12X Coaster bus runs from East Dean back to Seaford.