South Downs Odyssey
Odýssey n. a long, wandering and eventful journey!

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 stay for bed and breakfast.

South Downs Way legs

Leg 22

 Birling Gap
to Eastbourne

5 miles

This headland was always a danger to shipping. In 1831, construction began on the Belle Tout lighthouse but because mist and low clouds could hide its light, Beachy Head Lighthouse was 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originally built in the 1820's by a local character known as 'Mad' Jack Fuller, but became a private home after being superseded by the Beachy Head lighthouse.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!

Now where are we going to walk next?

Birling Gap to Eastbourne - 5 miles

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Winchester to Cheesefoot Head

Sun 21 Sep 2014

3.5 miles


Cheesefoot Head to Beauworth

Sun 31 Aug 2014

5.5 miles


Beauworth to Exton

Sat 2 Aug 2014

4 miles


Exton to Old Winchester Hill

Mon 28 Jul 2014

3.125 miles


Old Winchester Hill to East Meon

Mon 5 May 2014

5 miles


East Meon to Petersfield

Sat 12 Apr 2014

4.5 miles


Q.E. Park to Harting Hill

Thu 10 Apr 2014

5.5 miles


Harting Hill to Cocking

Thu 17 Apr 2014

7 miles


Cocking to Duncton

Thu 15 May 2014

5.25 miles


Duncton to Bury Hill

Sat 23 Aug 2014

5 miles


Bury Hill to Storrington

Sat 23 May 2015

6 miles


Storrington to Washington

Fri 11 Sep 2015

4 miles


Washington to beyond Chanctonbury Ring

Sun 6 Sep 2015

2.75 miles


Chanctonbury Ring to Beeding

Sun 20 Sep 2015

4.5 miles


Beeding to Devil’s Dyke

Sun 4 Oct 2015

5.25 miles


Devil’s Dyke to Ditchling Beacon

Sun 5 Jun 2016

6 miles


Ditchling Beacon to Housedean Farm

Tue 21 Jun 2016

5 miles


Housedean farm to Southease

Sun 31 Jul 2016

7 miles


Southease to Alfriston

Tue 6 Sep 2016

7 miles


Alfriston to Cuckmere River

Mon 26 Sep

3 miles


Cuckmere River to Birling Gap

Fri 7 Oct

5 miles


Birling Gap to Eastbourne

Mon 10 Oct

5 miles