Thanks to a cancelled commitment in the morning, suddenly there was a whole day free (the hoovering can wait) so we were back on the A27 just three days after the last leg at the Seven Sisters. Another early start, and autumn is really here now, the temperature was just 6 degrees when we set off.
We followed the now very familiar route across Sussex before turning on to the A26 to go through Newhaven where we passed the very odd shaped building that turned out to be a recycling plant, which we had seen for miles on the leg from Southease to Alfriston.
Coffee and cake at the Birling Gap café were a priority before we started to walk up the first hill and towards Belle Tout Lighthouse, now a unique place to stayfor bed and breakfast.
South Downs Way legs
Birling Gap to Eastbourne 5 miles
This headland was always a danger to shipping. In 1831, construction began on theBelle Tout lighthousebut because mist and low clouds could hide its light, Beachy Head Lighthousewas built in the sea below Beachy Head and was fully automated in 1983. Belle Tout, was moved inland in March 1999 to escape the receding coastline. It was originally built in the 1820's by a local character known as 'Mad' Jack Fuller, but became a private home after being superseded by the Beachy Head lighthouse.
And then, the unforgettable sight of the Beachy Head lighthouse came into view.
Erosion to the cliff path
We reached Beachy Head, sadly, one of the most notorious suicide spots in the world. We were delighted to find a perfect picnic spot – the remains of a Lloyds signalling tower complete with benches round the edge. We were lucky that being a Monday, there were not many people around, so we spread ourselves out to ensure a private dining room.
On we went, and Eastbourne appeared, but first a look at the Bomber Command memorial which had been installed in June 2012. This granite monument has a place on the headland which would have been one of the last sights many airmen saw as they flew out over East Sussex.
A winding path took us round the edge of the headland, it would have been quicker and easier to continue along the top but that would have been cheating – we had to stick to the South Downs way! All the time we were looking at panoramic views over Eastbourne, including the pier.
A final descent (one of the steepest had been saved to the end) and we had made it! The official (weatherbeaten) signpost declared that Winchester was 100 miles away.
We then had a long walk along the prom to the pier where we had massive celebratory ice creams.
There was one more sting in the tail – having opted to get a taxi back to Birling Gap, none of the taxis were available until 4:00, presumably because they were all doing school runs.
We jumped on a bus without thinking to check if it was going in the right direction, fortunately it was! We were soon back at East Dean with just another mile and a quarter to walk back to the car (and a two hour drive home).
Well, we will always remember where we were and what we were doing on 10 October 2016. It is the day that our Odyssey was completed, with 100 miles of walking (and goodness knows how many miles of driving) but we did it!