Monday, 6 June 2011


The stretch of coast just before Eastbourne boasts the neighbouring topographical superstars The Seven Sisters and Beachy Head. The Seven Sisters are essentially a series of seven ‘humps’ on the clifftop, with its striking white chalk face topped with rolling green downland. They came about as a result of the erosion of dry valleys within the downs. There is a country park here taking in the cliffs, river valleys and chalk grassland stretching over 280 hectares.

Beachy Head is one of the most famous headlands on Britain’s south coast, with the highest chalk sea cliff in the country, rising to a height of 162m. This is a place tinged with sadness, being a popular place for suicides and attempted suicides, reckoned to number on average 20 per year. Add to that the loss of life from maritime accidents just offshore, and one shudders to think of the number of lives lost at the hands of Beachy Head. A collision in 1889 between the British vessel Largo Bay and a steamer called the Glencoe resulted in 54 dead, more than half of them Chinese. In 1912 the P & O liner Oceana collided with the German barque Pisagua resulting in 9 lost lives. These are just two examples. Add to this the wartime toll, including the torpedoing of the steamer Haipolian in 1915, and it is hard to conjure up positive feelings about this headland. However, as long as you are not harbouring self-annihilating thoughts, a walk up to Beachy Head can be one of the most exhilarating experiences to be had on the British coast.

Map of the area.

Reproduced by kind permission of Tim Baynes Art 

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