Day 84: English Coastal Path


Monday 5th September 2022

Today miles: 19.8 Total miles: 1388.2

I wanted to start this blog off by saying what an absolutely stunning, stunning day. All the physical pain and mental anxiety that you can experience on a multi day walk is all worth it when you get to experience days like today. After leaving the Burlington Hotel early (6.30am) I’m immediately on the coast and after a mile of promenade walking I’m ascending up the hill at Holywell. After another mile across the short grass there’s suddenly a short but steep ascent up onto Beachy Head. This felt more like Scottish hill walking then English coast walking. I paused briefly at the RAF Bomber Command memorial which is situated close to the 164m trig point. I could only imagine the relief of the World War Two RAF crews when they saw the relative safety of these chalky cliffs after each perilous mission over occupied Europe. At this point the ECP intersects with the South Downs Way. It was a perfect day to be walking across the grassy slopes atop of the cliffs, first passing the Belle Tout Lighthouse towards Birling Gap. I arrived at Birling Gap cafe around 9.15am just fifteen minutes before opening. Once inside, as first customer of the day I quickly ordered myself a well earned coffee and a bacon sandwich. Within twenty minutes of opening the place was packed. Lots of buses full of excited, chattering students wearing their day packs.

For the next three miles I’d be walking across the Seven Sisters. This is a series of seven hills carved into the chalk hills between Birling Gap and Exceat. Arguably the prettiest three miles that I’ve ever walked on the ECP. At the top of the last hill I removed my pack and sat down, not because I was feeling tired, I just simply wanted to linger over the breathtaking views.

In order to get around Cuckmere River I walk a mile inland to the Exceat Bridge. After briefly dropping into the visitors centre to top up my water bottle I crossed the bridge on what was a fairly busy road. I’m no longer on the South Downs Way but I’m now on the Vanguard Way which will take me back onto the cliffs and then further on towards Seaford. As an additional bonus I saw two RAF Typhoon fighter Jets, a Chinook helicopter and a small private aircraft flying around the area for around an hour, there maybe making a movie or a promo video. It took me a while to walk into Seaford as I couldn’t stop turning around and looking back towards the Sisters and I’ll definitely be back here with Gemma. I walked through Seaford briefly going into town to grab yet more drinks and snacks. The last few days I’ve been drinking a minimum of four litres of liquid each day and I grab additional drinks whenever I can. The weather is predicted to turn bad pretty soon and thunderstorms are expected over the next three days, starting from tonight. The walk through Newhaven was straightforward. After crossing the River Ouse I made the mistake of deciding to stop on a bench near the public toilets at Newhaven Marina. I’ll not talk to much about what happened next, but the men hanging around made me feel uncomfortable so I quickly set off again.

Once again I ascended the cliffs, this time towards Fort Newhaven. I was now looking for somewhere to pitch my tent and I wanted to be somewhere where if the predicted bad weather arrived I could run to for some additional shelter. After walking along the cliffs at Newhaven Heights I entered Peacehaven and soon after found the beer garden at ‘The Peacehaven’ public house. The lady behind the bar was really pleasant and she was happy for me to pitch on the grass. The building has some outdoor seating with a roof, this might offer me somewhere to run to and shelter if or when the storm does arrive. Shortly after pitching I walked to the bar and had a couple of pints before heading to bed, around 9pm.

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