Doorstep Adventures: Hiking the 7 Sisters on England’s South Downs

Doorstep-Adventures-South-Downs

If you’re anything like me, you enjoy nothing more than a day of fresh air, hiking through England’s beautiful countryside.

May 2015. I was in need of some bracing, British fresh air but with only an afternoon/evening free on a grey Saturday it would have to be a local one. It was time for another doorstep adventure.

THE SOUTH DOWNS AWAITS

The South Downs is only a few hours drive from me. My friend, Scott had found a walk in the magazine, Country Walking. It was perfect and soon we’d be setting off. Gabby wasn’t best pleased at first. She asked, ‘where are you going with Scott?’ Telling her we were going to 7 Sisters probably  wasn’t the best thing to respond with. She either thought I was heading somewhere dodgy or I had suddenly found Jesus and was off to a nunnery.

Confusion resolved, we set off.  We’d be following the South Downs Way along the coast, through the forest, taking us in a big loop back to Birling Gap where we’d leave the car.

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SODDING M25

Unfortunately, getting stuck in gridlock traffic on the M25 wasn’t part of the plan and after hours of patience, we finally arrived at the South Downs. Safe to say, 3:30pm wasn’t our original ETA.

As the walk takes up to 6 hours and we wanted to catch sunset on the white cliffs, we had to reverse the walk and go backwards. Not literally, but start from the end and finish at the beginning. What we didn’t take into account was that we’d now be going uphill most the way…our calve muscles would not be thanking us tomorrow!

Camera? Check. GoPro? Check. Waterproof? Bugger!

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We first headed uphill and across fields full of sheep and lambs before heading into the forest. Just check out that tree… it was blowing a bloody hooley.


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We reached our half way mark: The meandering River Cuckmere. The river leads out to sea and that was where we were headed. Next stop the 7 Sisters.

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BECOMING ATTENBOROUGH

Just before our ascent to the 7 sisters we came across something really special. Just off the path, we could see 4 young badgers. I had sadly only ever seen badgers at the side of the road in not very good shape. These on the other hand were in beautiful condition.

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We could soon see that these little guys were very tame so we quietly set up our cameras near the shrubbery and sat back watching them as they went about what we presume was their evening scavenge. So we joined them. Not literally, but this seemed as good a spot as any for a snack and thirst quencher. Attenborough eat your heart out!

It was just gone 7:30pm. Unfortunately due to the grey weather, we wouldn’t be witnessing a good sunset but instead, sat and watched these little guys for a while which was such a privilege. An experience I’m sure we won’t be lucky enough to witness again any time soon.

We may not have decent whale watching or elephants here in the UK… but we’ve got some bloody good badgers.

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THE 7 SISTERS

After a while we left the badgers to their business and headed up the hill, finally arriving at the 7 Sisters. If this was a clear day with an awesome sunset we’d be in a photographer’s dream. Although it was a little grey, the view was still spectactular so we got a little snap happy anyway.


South-Downs-Hike South-Downs-Hike South-Downs-Hike South-Downs-HikeWe hiked along the dramatic cliff edge (not getting too close as the wind was still going strong come 8:30pm) and trekked up and down each of the 7 hills that lead us back to Birling Gap Lookout.

South-Downs-HikeThis walk is an intermediate difficulty. I’d recommend to follow the path as suggested, doing the walk the correct way round, starting off at the 7 Sisters. That would be much more sensible.

However, as they say on the X Factor, we made it our own. We had witnessed something very special along the way and returned home with not only achey calves and a windswept look but a decent batch of photos to tell the story.

And all of this just a couple of hours from home. In travelling terms, that’s right on our doorstep. 

Have you discovered any gems close to home lately? 

 

  • http://valisemag.com Valerie

    <3 Take me back to England, please? Love your photos — I think I'll add this to my list for my next trip to England!

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Ah thanks for the lovely comment Valerie – SO pleased to hear you like the photos :). Would definitely recommend this hike… just remember a waterproof if you do ;).

      Growing up in Alaska you must have TONNES of incredible adventures on your doorstep! (A little bit jealous…) 🙂

      James

      • http://valisemag.com Valerie

        You have to visit Alaska — it’s the best! It’s a commitment of time and money, but from what I heard growing up and working in tourism there, and since having moved away — it’s a once in a lifetime trip that everyone needs to make! And you’d probably fly through Seattle, so if you do, I’ll be here!! 🙂

        • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

          I’ve heard that from a lot of people also! We’ll absolutely make it there at some point – it’s on the ever growing list ;). We’ll be sure to let you know if we’re anywhere near Seattle at any point also – would be great to hang out 🙂

  • http://www.bottled-air.com Laura @ Bottled-Air

    Love the photos! Can’t wait to be in England next year. the only place I’ve seen in the UK is London so far, buut since Will’s from England I’m forcing him to show me the country when we’re i in Europe – well, or rather explore it with me. Can’t believe how beautiful this place is!

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Thanks Laura! Ooo when are you guys heading over? Let us know if you’re around the London area at all – we could all go for a pint :). England is beautiful in places… even more so when it’s not raining ;).

  • http://www.vetaretus-6.de vetaretus-6

    I just looove those photos! Omg I need to go visit England!

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Thank you! Yes you should!! England has lots of hidden gems like this to discover :).

      • http://www.vetaretus-6.de vetaretus-6

        I’ve only ever been to London so far, but I feel like I really gotta change this. Also since it’s not really far from Germany to travel there! 🙂

        • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

          Not far at all! Let us know if you do venture over – Happy to play tour guide! 🙂

          • http://www.vetaretus-6.de vetaretus-6

            Sounds great, thanks! 😀

          • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

            Anytime 😀

  • http://www.loveandroad.com Love and Road

    It´s incredible how we can find amazing places around our backyard. Sometimes we take them for granted and end up never visiting or enjoying them!

    Congrats for the photos and for sharing this stunning place.

    🙂

    Nat

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Isn’t it just. We were sat in our flat planning our travels a few weeks back, scratching our itchy feet & counting down the days until we could be travelling again… that’s when we decided to explore closer to home and the doorstep adventures series was born!

      You’re right… so many amazing places are so close you may miss them. Thanks for the comment Nat 🙂

      James

  • http://travellousworld.com Maaike (Travellous World)

    Awh Seven Sisters! Absolutely stunning! When we were planning our first roadtrip to the UK, there was a photo of Seven Sisters on the cover of my Lonely Planet. So I said: ”I don’t care where else we’re going, but I need to see this!” So we did, and it’s absolutely stunning! However, we didn’t do the hike that you did. 6 Hours? Wow! That’s long. But I bet it was worth it? The photos of the badgers are so cute!

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Hey Maaike – thanks so much for your comment! Pleased to hear you’ve also discovered this amazing place… the hike was long yes (and SO windy), but very satisfying once we made it back to the car & looked back at the photos. And the badgers were an added treat! Have you written a post about the Seven Sisters? Would love to have a read if so :).

      • http://travellousworld.com Maaike (Travellous World)

        Unfortunately not yet. But I probably really should 🙂

        • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

          Let us know if/when you do and we’ll head on over for a gander :).

  • Natalie Tanner

    Fantastic photos – and that wind blown tree! Amazing! Our next visit to England will include the kids and they would love a day like this one. Thanks for the inspirational post!

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Thanks so much Natalie – really pleased you like the photos. The tree speaks volumes – it was bloody windy! So pleased to hear we’ve inspired you to visit… Do let us know when you make it to England if you need a tour guide! 🙂
      James

  • Chris Nash

    Some of those awesome photos are just so England!

    Great stuff

    • http://www.theglobewanderers.com TheGlobeWanderers

      Thanks Chris really pleased you liked them! 🙂 A little drizzly… but that is pretty England ;).