By Shannon Whyte
As we edge towards the beginning of Spring and with emerging deadlines making time for self-care even more important, it seems like the perfect time to get out and explore the outskirts of Brighton (like you’ve probably been telling yourself you would do since you started uni).
Having lived in Brighton for almost two years, I can say there is plenty to do without having to take yourself too far from the quirks and comforts of the town, but sometimes it can be refreshing to take a little trip with your pals and try something new. Recently, on one of the rare sunny days that blessed us amidst the storms, my flatmate and I decided it was about time we made the most of the area we live in so we hopped on a bus towards the Seven Sisters Cliffs that run between Seaford and Eastbourne in the South Downs National Park. If you study at the University of Sussex, it’s likely that you’ve ventured into the South Downs between lectures for a bit of a wander or to escape the bubble of campus at the weekend, but these chalk cliffs and blue waters are well worth the extra journey.
We got the Coaster 12X bus from Sea Life Centre [stop K] (just outside Patterns) and headed towards Seven Sisters Park Centre. The journey was nice and easy, taking us just under an hour. As students, we’re always looking for a cheap, fun way to spend the day and as this bus route falls in the ‘green zone’, you can travel all the way there and back with a 24hr networkSAVER mobile ticket, costing just £3.75 for students.
There is an information centre and a quaint café right by the Seven Sisters Park Centre bus stop if you want to start your day off with a little treat. We decided to head straight towards the cliffs and begin the walk, kitted out with snacks for along the way. There are a number of routes you can take that vary in time and difficulty, but as we didn’t really have much of a plan we just followed a footpath from the bus stop, across the green and towards the coast which ended up working perfectly. We walked up over the top of the cliffs, stopping a couple of times to admire the view or take a water break. The scenery was beautiful and it felt so good be fully immersed in nature for a while. Once we’d walked over the seven cliffs, we reached Birling Gap. Here there was a National Trust Information Centre, complete with toilets and a café, where we stopped for a well-deserved coffee break and a bite to eat (vegan options available).
Once refuelled, we climbed the steps down onto the beach – be sure not to miss this part when you make the journey! From the shore, full of rock pools and interesting looking stones from the cliff falls, you get an entirely different perspective of the scale of the cliffs and a chance to dip your toes in the water before making the journey back along the cliffs to the Seven Sisters Park Centre again.
Overall, the trip took us the full day, leaving home around 9am and arriving back around 6pm. We spent plenty of time sat on the rocks chatting or exploring, so it could definitely be done in less time if you’re looking for a shorter trip. Also, if you’re not much of a walker, there are plenty of places to simply sit and enjoy a change of scenery. On the way back we spotted a cosy pub called The Cuckmere Inn, which the bus home conveniently stops at or is just a short walk from the Park Centre. We’re already planning our next trip back when the weather brightens up, aiming to do the full walk across the cliffs and back again before ending the day admiring the view in the pub garden with a nice pint and some pub grub. If you’re looking to get away from uni stress or escape city life for a while, it’s definitely worth making the journey there at some point throughout your uni experience.
Photo credit: Shannon Whyte