A hiking trip from Eastbourne to Beachy Head.
ON thy stupendous summit, rock sublime !
That o’er the channel rear’d, half way at sea
The mariner at early morning hails,
I would recline; while Fancy should go forth,
And represent the strange and awful hour
Of vast concussion; when the Omnipotent
Stretch’d forth his arm, and rent the solid hills,
Bidding the impetuous main flood rush between
The rifted shores, and from the continent
Eternally divided this green isle.
“Beachy Head”, by Charlotte Smith.
A seaside town in East Sussex located between Brighton and Dover and only one and a half hour train-ride away from London Victoria, Eastbourne is a perfect gateway from the daily rush of the UK’s capital. Trains departure on average every 30 minutes, and tickets are about £35 both ways.
By now, you will wonder why Eastbourne? Brighton is half the journey and train tickets are cheaper. I´ve almost forgotten, Brighton has a vibrant night-life too. So why the heck should I like to go there? The answer is simple and it´s the Beachy Head, highest chalk sea cliff in Great Britain that rises over 160 meters above the sea level, equipped with endless views , country-side and beachfront walking paths and a dramatic cliff-top.
Once you get off the train, you will notice how it annoyingly resembles any southern England town, perhaps with a nicer train station.
In order to get to the sea side, you will need to make a 10 minutes short walk through the town center. The main road features independent shops and cafes, housing also a weekend market provided with clothes stalls and other knickknacks.
We highly recommend you to use this time to check out local restaurants as Eastbourne doesn´t seem to have an appealing assortment to choose from. In our case, we decided to go back to London. It might have been our mistake, but we couldn’t find a place worth the hassle. The locals are probably now gathering with torches and marching to London, but hey, let us know and we are more than happy to come back and try any of your recommendations.
Well, here we are, the sea-front. Hmmm, again, am I sure this is not Brighton? A wall of Victorian Houses facing the waters of the English Channel and the very familiar pebbly beach in front of us. But a surprise, there is a pier! Which is closed, damn. That is certainly a downside as I had a fiver ready to be invested at the pier’s casino. Ohh well, I will save it for a beer later.
But let’s get back to our trip. Once you are facing the seafront (and the weather is nice enough) just turn right and you will notice the outline of the cliffs standing out from the clear blue sky.
From here, you can either choose to take a bus that departs from the Pier (which I consider quite lame) or set out on a 20 minutes walk along the beach, down the seafront promenade. Once the beach ends, and the walking path starts running up the hill, you can treat yourself with some refreshments at the local cafe, but, as we packed our lunch at home, we moved forward and we started following the trial that moves alongside the cliffs.
The sun is up and follows us from the very beginning, we are surrounded by lush vegetation and the breathtaking view of the crystal blue sea just makes the whole experience perfect, releasing a pungent scent of seaweed and attracting a flock of seagulls. What else could we ask for? Ahh yeah, clouds, here they come. Climbing the peak of Beachy Head, we get in the middle of one of these. No harm, but the views were a bit restricted, nevertheless we continued our walk.
Once we get to the summit, the sun is back again and we can fully enjoy the panorama of the British country side just behind us.
And of course, as we are in the UK, there is nothing less than a traditional pub located just a few steps away from the cliff-top. There is a parking lot too, and, if you feel lazy, you can drive all the way up here, just enjoying the views.
A few pictures (and beers) after and we are on our way back.
As the old saying goes, “what goes up must get down”, downhill I´d say. Hiking down Beachy Head is just a pleasure, although the hillside might be a little steep. We continued walking until we found a perfect picnic spot in the middle of nowhere and, equipped with homemade sandwiches, we had lunch and relaxed a little until we were ready to head back to town.
Having decided to have a dinner in London, we stopped at a Belgian pub, and, after two glasses, or maybe 3, we went back to the station to catch our return train.
Eastbourne in a few words? A great place to escape London and recharge batteries for the upcoming week. Less than £100 for a couple, including train tickets and some treats. We recommend a picnic at the cliffs as a must-do option.