Seven Sisters via the South Downs Way with Fr. John.

Name of walk Seven Sisters via the South Downs Way with Fr. John.
Date of walk 2013-09-23
Distance walked (miles) 9
Duration of walk 4 hours 0 minutes
Weather Hot and sticky with blue skies later.
Peaks on walk Seven Sisters
Walked with Fr. John Inglis
Parking Exceat car park.

Brendan and I went down to Brighton for the Labour Party Conference. We stayed with designer and author Joanna Osborne and her husband, composer and author Orlando Gough and their fine lurcher, Nell. Their house on Sillwood Road used to be a Theatrical Boarding House and it was here that Richard Attenborough and others in the cast of the film ‘Brighton Rock’ stayed. It is a four storey building. Our B&B rooms were in the basement and we had our own entrance. I can thoroughly recommend both the house and their company! Especially their home made granola!

I managed to avoid most of the Conference, but I did go to one Labour ‘Progress’ Fringe meeting. I went to the ‘Stand Up For Labour’ gig at the Brighton Dome, with Eddie Izzard, Jo Brand, John Bishop and Stephen K. Amos, which was excellent. Plus I was joined in the Waterstones lift by Ken Livingstone….I have always had a soft spot for Red Ken…..such a small lift too, one can’t help but interact! 😉

The rest of the time I amused myself with the geography of Brighton, doing a fair amount of walking. For this particular walk I met up with Fr. John again. He used to be the parish priest at St. Joseph’s, but was now at the parish of Effingham and Fetcham in Surrey. So as this was his patch it was his choice of walk. We drove towards Eastbourne to the car park at Exceat to walk from there to Birling Gap over the Seven Sisters, which is part of the South Downs Way. Nothing too strenuous. The forecast was for good visibility and for sunshine in the afternoon.


View from near our starting point of Cuckmere Haven, the gap on the horizon. We are heading up the hill to the left of the gap.


The river is surrounded by wetlands.


A Little Egret.


Looking over to Seaford Head and the Coastguard Cottages.


John stops to eat some blackberries. He says they are not that nice, but carries on eating them anyway!


Looking back to Cuckmere Haven from the headland and the first of the Seven Sisters.


The chalk cliffs with the Lighthouse just beyond Birling Gap on the horizon.


Signs of erosion.


There is a great temptation to stand right on the edge and look down to the beach below.


A cave at beach level.


There are multiple paths to chose. We walk the one closest to the edge.


Layers of flint in the chalk. The deposits date from the Late Cretaceous Period. 84-87 million years ago.


Blue skies have started to appear. It is hot and very sticky.


We take a short break and admire the view. I discover that my inside leg measurement is an inch longer than John's! Nothing strange there you think....except he is 6ft 2 and I`m 5ft 7. I have long legs! But then if they were any shorter they wouldn't reach the ground!


"Don't look at the camera" says John. So I stare vacantly into the middle distance feeling rather like I am in an old episode of 'Silent Witness'.


From this angle you can see the ups and downs of the Seven Sisters.


John keeps asking me if I am okay, or whether I want to stop for a bit, but he is just being facetious! The Lake District it ain't! The ups and downs could not be considered remotely strenuous, unless you're a soft southerner!


The cliff erosion here is very apparent. The section of cliff could fall to the beach below at any time. We keep to this side of the fissure.


Beach view.


View east from the steps at Birling Gap.


View west from the steps. The dolphin is made out of seaweed. We have lunch at the National Trust Cafe, John's treat. The clouds of earlier in the day have all gone and it is blue skies and sunshine and has turned out rather lovely. Our original plan was to walk here and then catch the bus back. John's mistake was asking me over lunch "Bus or walk back?". D'oh! So we ended up walking back too. He'll learn!


After lunch we headed down the steps to the beach.


If you don't want to know the scores, look away now! At least John never instructed me to look at my watch or point enquiringly out to sea like the male models in the old Freeman's Catalogues that my Grandmother used to have! Do they still exist?


John and the steps up from the beach.


A great view now the sea and skies are both blue.


On the way back we kept to the main path.


View back to Birling Gap.


Arriving back at the view to Seaford Head.


There were loads of German school children at both ends of the walk.


Heading for the car park. We have an ice lolly and a cold drink before the drive back to Brighton. The walk was about nine miles and took just over four hours. John was excellent company as usual. He dropped me off back at the B&B and in order to make the most of the weather I had a quick shower, changed and then headed out to Brighton Pier.


I walked down to the beach promenade.


Then ventured down to the sea.



View of The Wheel from the Palace Pier. The Van Alen Building is the building to the left of the wheel.


I call at the Van Alen Building to see Don, my old headmaster from schooldays. We have kept in touch. He is 80 now but still sharp as a pin! We chat about times past over a glass of red and watch the sunset from his balcony. He has a superb view! On Sunday morning they were filming The Andrew Marr Show from the Terrace Restaurant opposite and he watched all the comings and goings. Don has also been a London Labour Council Leader in his time.


Night view of the wheel from the pier.


The view west. I eventually meet up with Brendan about 9pm. He has already eaten at the various buffets they put on at all the party events, but I had had nothing since lunch, so I had a curry at the Lion and Lobster and we swapped news about our day.

Another excellent day of walking!


Other walks with Fr. John include: