I absolutely love going for a long walk and exploring new places and to my mind, there is nowhere better to do this than by the sea. I've posted many times about walking the cliffs at Beachy Head, Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters but this was the first time I have walked the cliffs in the opposite direction starting at Seaford Head and walking to the Cuckmere Valley. It really is beautiful and I can't recommend it highly enough.
Drive to Seaford and you can park on the seafront and plenty of it is free for up to 12 hours, so that's great news! Definitely take some time to enjoy walking along the prom and in low season you'll hardly see anyone. They have the classic pastel-coloured beach huts and lots of nice little beach hut cafes as you wander along. We've had coffee at Martello's Coffee before and they have plenty of seating on a deck right on the beach. But my favourite is Frankie's cafe where you can get a slice of homemade cake and a toastie for a very reasonable price.
Walk down the seafront towards Splash Point. You can fail to notice the enormous white cliff face there, so you'll know you're heading in the right direction. In parts, there is quite an incline to climb up onto the clifftop and I wouldn't say I'm the most proficient hill walker, but I managed fine. So just make sure you have on good shoes and wear a backpack, rather than a handbag like I did. Turn back to look over Seaford as you head up as it is a really nice view and not too spoilt. You see the gold course at the start of this walk and I can't say I'd fancy golfing on the cliff.
You can see in this next photo where it gets much steeper and the path has been worn away in kind of stripes. Getting up wasn't too bad but walking back down this bit I found quite daunting as it is steep and there weren't many footholds and of course no handrails, so I just took it very slowly.
It's really important to remember that our white cliffs in East Sussex are chalk cliffs and as such, they are not very stable towards the edge. They are prone to erosion in bad weather and we fairly regularly have small cliff slides at the edges. Whilst we were up the top of the cliff we could see that an area had been roped off as it had visibly dropped by about 6 inches. So do pay attention to any signage, ropes and just basically stay well clear of the edge. No photo is worth that kind of drop!
All this top part of the cliff is the Seaford Head Nature Reserve which is jointly owned by Seaford Town Council, the National Trust and East Sussex County Council. My husband is a keen bird photographer and we saw quite a number of interesting birds on our walk including Linnet, Kestrel, Stonechat, Whitethroat, Skylark and the more regular birds like Crows and Ravens.
About halfway along our walk, we came across Hope Gap where you can descend the stairs to a small beach when the tide is out. Whilst we were there the tide was in and the steps led into the water, it looked very beautiful but a little daunting.
We continued onwards towards the Cuckmere where you can find a large pebble beach and the valley, which is really beautiful and you can follow the meandering river inland. There is a really nice cafe at Exceat called the Saltmarsh where you can have a break to rest your legs and recharge for the walk back.
At the Cuckmere Valley, there is Buzz Active and you can hire paddleboards, canoes and kayaks from them all year round, so that makes a fun activity. Normally there are public toilets in the car park by Buzz, but they have been closed during Covid times.
Just before you reach the Cuckmere Valley you get to the iconic Coastguard Cottages, they have been the subject of so many painting and postcards over the years with the highs and lows of the Seven Sisters cliffs in the background.
We did this walk in April and you can see from the skies that the weather was quite lovely but be warned there can be quite a bit of wind on the cliff tops and I had my scarf and at one point needed my gloves on when I was sat reading whilst my husband took photos.
In the next photo, you can see more of Cuckmere beach if you look to the left of the photo. It's a really big space and has never been busy any time I have visited.
After a short stay at the Cuckmere, we turned around and did the same walk again backwards. If we hadn't wanted to, we could have picked up a bus at Exceat that will go directly back to Seaford and only takes about 10 minutes.
Just as we came to an end of the flat top of the cliff, this view (below) is what you can see of Seaford and we took some time to sit on one of the benches and take it all in.