Seven Sisters, two lighthouses and Friston Forest
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Join us west of Eastbourne for a circular walk that includes the spectacular chalk cliffs known as the Seven Sisters, rolling countryside and a beech forest. And we'll see two lighthouses along the coast! To begin, we follow the South Downs Way up onto the cliffs and walk east. The ups (the “Sisters”) and downs (named “bottoms”) of the chalk cliffs from Cuckmere Haven to Birling Gap all have individual names, and in recent times have increased to eight ups and seven downs as a result of erosion reshaping the coastline.
At Birling Gap we'll stop for lunch on the pebble beach before walking up the next rise to the Belle Tout lighthouse (now decommissioned and converted into an interesting b&b). Descending to Hod Combe, the Beachy Head lighthouse (still in service but automated) comes into view, rising out of the sea at the foot of the cliffs.
From Hod Combe we head north to the attractive village of East Dean with its pub on the village green. Crossing the A259, we plunge into Friston Forest, which is primarily beech woodlands, and emerge after two miles at the small hamlet of West Dean. A short, sharp ascent brings us back to the starting point. Total distance: around 11 miles / 18 km, with approx 1050 ft / 320 metres of ascent.
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COVID-19 – IMPORTANT, Please read the following before you sign up to this event:
- Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are extremely mild, or who lives or is in a support bubble with someone showing symptoms, is asked not to attend. This is in line with the government’s coronavirus advice.
- You must also immediately self-isolate and not attend the event if you or someone in your household or support bubble shows coronavirus symptoms or tests positive. You can find the NHS self-isolation guidance here.
- The main symptoms of COVID-19 are a high temperature, a new continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of taste and/or smell.
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- All are required to practice social distancing – staying 2m (not 1m) apart at all times, including the lunch stop. Remember: Face, Hands, Space.
- Unfortunately, there won’t be any planned pub / café stops en route or at the end, and please don’t share sweets or snacks with others – we’re sorry!
- Please bring your own hand sanitising gel for your own use throughout the day. Use of face coverings is at your own choice, but please bring one with you just in case it's needed. Please bring any other PPE items required. Bring a disposable bag for any used PPE.
- Members are advised to bring their own small first aid kit for personal use..
- Be aware that opportunities for toilet stops may be minimal if facilities are closed.
- Please, please cancel at your earliest opportunity if you are unable to attend or are unwell, so that we can allow others to take up these valuable event spaces.
- Much as it's difficult - no handshakes or hugs!
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OutdoorLads draws your attention to the fact that travelling and being away from home increases the risk of receiving and transmitting Coronavirus, whilst it is present in the UK. You are likely to choose not to participate in OutdoorLads events whilst there is a risk of Coronavirus transmission. However, should you choose to participate in OutdoorLads events whilst the risk is present, you must be aware of and follow the law and government guidelines, both when travelling to and from events as well as when participating in events.
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All photographs by the walk leader, with permission for future use by ODL
What to bring
Boots: your most important piece of kit: waterproof, breathable and designed for hiking. Trainers may be OK, depending on how rough the ground is and if its dry. Socks: proper walking socks will keep your feet dry and help prevent blisters. Gaiters: recommended for wet weather or boggy conditions.
Layered clothing: lets you quickly adapt to changes in the weather and to body temperature. Go for a base layer (vest or t-shirt), a mid layer (micro-fleece or shirt) and in cooler weather add an outer layer (windproof jacket or thick fleece). Trousers: avoid jeans as they become heavy and cold in the rain, and take ages to dry out. Breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry more quickly. On warm days shorts may be OK.
Waterproof jacket: carry one in your rucksack when walking in all but the calmest of weather. Breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry.
Hat or cap: useful for staying warm in winter and shaded in summer. Gloves: essential in winter and ideally waterproof.
Day rucksack: typically 20-30 litres, this should be comfortable to wear and allow you to use your arms freely.
Sunglasses: for any sunny day, even in winter. Sun cream: can be useful even on cloudy and winter days.
Lunch: bring a packed lunch unless otherwise stated. Snacks: a range of biscuits, energy bars, bananas, chocolate or dried fruit (for example) are always good to have. Put them in your rucksack where they are easy to grab..
Water or other fluid: bring between one and two litres, depending on season of the year and temperature. A combination of water, fruit juice, energy drinks and a hot drink is a good idea.
Medicines: essential if you have hay fever, diabetes, minor ailments, etc. A personal first aid kit with bandages and paracetamol or ibuprofen (for your own use only) is a good idea.
Hand sanitiser and a face covering: whilst we are living with Covid-19, please bring your own to events to help keep everyone safe.
Food & drink
Bring a packed lunch, snacks and plenty of water and other drinks (one to two litres). There is a National Trust café, offering a takeaway service, close to where we will stop for lunch on the beach at Birling Gap. There are also toilets at this location.