Beachy Head to Birling Gap (South Downs National Park, PDF)
- 5 miles/8.1km linear walk or 7 miles for full circular walk
- several gradual climbs
- Countryside Centre at Beachy Head,
- Choice of pubs – The Beachy Head at Beachy Head; and the Tiger Inn and Hiker’s Rest Tea Room at East Dean
- National Trust cafe at Birling Gap
A walk of superb sea views and and rolling downland clifftops, with the initial section covering the high Downs on the edge of Eastbourne. It’s then westwards towards Beachy Head, 500 feet above the sea, and onwards to Belle Tout lighthouse high up on the clifftop.
Belle Tout was built in 1832 but decommissioned in 1902 when the new Beachy Head lighthouse was built at the base of the cliffs. During World War II, Belle Tout was damaged when Canadian troops used it as target practice. In 1999, due to continuing erosion threatening the future of the building the lighthouse was moved 17 metres (56 feet) back from the edge of the cliff.
From the lighthouse, it’s down to Birling Gap, a small settlement crumbling into the sea, but you should be able to visit the National Trust cafe as long as the sea has not made any further inroads!
From Birling Gap, it’s inland towards East Dean, where you can stop off at the picturesque Tiger Inn or the Hikers Rest Tea Room, situated on the traffic-free village green, where you can get a bus or walk back to the start.