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A wet week in the Weald – Seven Sisters Country Park, UK

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Brighton Pavilion

Brighton Pavilion

After three months in the US, Mexico and Cuba we took the opportunity to take a ten day layover in the UK on the way home to China.

Rather than just stay in London we went down to Brighton in Sussex for the weekend, and from there went to show H round the area where I grew up.

Devil’s Dyke

As is stereotypical for the UK, but not that common, the weather was wet and foggy. From Brighton we drove up to one of the highest hills in the area, called Devil’s Dyke. Usually there’s a spectacular view across from the South Downs (the hills we were standing on) across the patchwork farmland to the North Downs, just south of London. Today there was a grey wall of fog, obscuring even the bottom of the hill.

Slightly disappointed we drove over to Firle Farm shop, one of my favourite places near Brighton. It’s an outlet for Sussex made food and drink, including an impressive Cider and Mead tasting area.

Seven Sisters Country Park in Sussex

Seven Sisters Country Park in Sussex – the old Beachy Head lighthouse can just be seen on the farthest cliff

Seven Sisters

Further along the coast is the Seven Sisters Country Park. This is where the river Cuckmere reaches the sea and is marked by a series of seven white chalk cliffs, the Sisters. Unlike the more globally known White Cliffs of Dover, these cliffs are actually white. The cliff face at Dover is protected, so has become grey and overgrown. The Seven Sisters are allowed to erode naturally so maintain their clean white appearance.

The cliffs are eroding at 30-40cm per year, so the pebble beach below is a treasure trove for fossil hunters, but also a place to take great care to avoid falling rocks.

It’s also a popular location for movies, as there’s little sign of modern life – no street lamps or pylons. It was used in films like Atonement and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Beachy Head, East Sussex

Beachy Head Lightohuse, East Sussex

Beachy Head

Yet further along the coast is Beachy Head, the highest of the Seven Sisters, and a famous suicide spot with records going back to the 7th century.

The landmark here is the slim red and white striped lighthouse at the base of the cliff. The old lighthouse used to sit on top of the cliff, but had to be moved further inland to avoid it falling into the sea with the crumbling cliffs and is now a house.

Seven Sisters in the Sun

Of course, a couple of weeks later the weather was better and my parents got these much improved shots from the same vantage point:

Cuckmere River on a sunny day

Looking back from Seven Sisters towards Cuckmere River on a sunny day

Seven Sisters in the Sun

Seven Sisters in the Sun, near the Coastguards Cottages

 

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Author

Since leaving London in 2006 I’ve travelled, worked, volunteered and lived in over 90 countries. Highlights so far would be driving along the Silk Road from Beijing to Istanbul, a complete circuit of South America and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica. I’m currently back in Beijing, as a base to visit more of Asia and attempt to learn Mandarin.

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