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

“Another opening, another show”, er blog, and today we are going to be walking on the magnificent Seven Sisters. This is the series of chalk cliffs that forms part of the South Downs between Seaford and Eastbourne, but first, we had to get there which meant a two hour drive. And that of course will mean two hours back as well, will it be worth it? The weather was not looking too good at this stage…..

Our destination was Birling Gap, where normally it would be possible to get a bus, but of course the bus route was closed for eight weeks! We walked back to East Dean to add 1.25 miles to our total, and caught a bus (another grumpy bus driver) to Exceat.



South Downs Way legs

Leg 21

 Cuckmere River (Exceat) to
Birling Gap
5 miles

After a restorative coffee and a massive flapjack we were on our way, climbing up the hill and getting our first views of the iconic coastguard cottages which are now mainly used as holiday cottages. They were built shortly after the National Coastguard Service was founded in 1822. The cliff face in front of the cottages has since retreated by more than 30 metres due to coastal erosion.

Then of course, what goes up must come down and this was the story of the day, with short, steep climbs and descents that needed care. Liz made sure that neither of us got too near the edge “what will I tell Marly?” Although we needed several breathers, it was very interesting and encouraging to note that our level of fitness has improved hugely (or was it that calorific flapjack??)


We must have been doing something good recently as once on the top of the cliffs, the sun came out and we were rewarded with the best picnic spot of the entire Odyssey, sitting on the top of the cliffs (well back from the edge!) looking out across the English Channel in glorious sunshine.

We talked about the erosion and could see that it would probably not be long before another part would be gone. Post walk research found that there had been a massive cliff fall here this year in May 2016 with about ten metres of cliff lost.


Was the long drive todayworth it? Without any hesitation yes, we had a fabulous day and as a bonus there were no stiles.  Now we have just one leg to do and our 100 miles walk will be completed.

Our choice of headgear today reflected the change in the weather as woolly hats had replaced sunhats.

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1

Winchester to Cheesefoot Head

Sun 21 Sep 2014

3.5 miles

2

Cheesefoot Head to Beauworth

Sun 31 Aug 2014

5.5 miles

3

Beauworth to Exton

Sat 2 Aug 2014

4 miles

4

Exton to Old Winchester Hill

Mon 28 Jul 2014

3.125 miles

5

Old Winchester Hill to East Meon

Mon 5 May 2014

5 miles

6

East Meon to Petersfield

Sat 12 Apr 2014

4.5 miles

7

Q.E. Park to Harting Hill

Thu 10 Apr 2014

5.5 miles

8

Harting Hill to Cocking

Thu 17 Apr 2014

7 miles

9

Cocking to Duncton

Thu 15 May 2014

5.25 miles

10

Duncton to Bury Hill

Sat 23 Aug 2014

5 miles

11

Bury Hill to Storrington

Sat 23 May 2015

6 miles

12

Storrington to Washington

Fri 11 Sep 2015

4 miles

13

Washington to beyond Chanctonbury Ring

Sun 6 Sep 2015

2.75 miles

14

Chanctonbury Ring to Beeding

Sun 20 Sep 2015

4.5 miles

15

Beeding to Devil’s Dyke

Sun 4 Oct 2015

5.25 miles

16

Devil’s Dyke to Ditchling Beacon

Sun 5 Jun 2016

6 miles

17

Ditchling Beacon to Housedean Farm

Tue 21 Jun 2016

5 miles

18

Housedean farm to Southease

Sun 31 Jul 2016

7 miles

19

Southease to Alfriston

Tue 6 Sep 2016

7 miles

20

Alfriston to Cuckmere River

Mon 26 Sep
2016

3 miles

21

Cuckmere River to Birling Gap

Fri 7 Oct
2016

5 miles

22

Birling Gap to Eastbourne

Mon 10 Oct
2016

5 miles