Visiting the Seven Sisters, near Seaford, East Sussex, England: an unspoilt stretch of dramatic coastline
Yes, there are seven of these chalk cliffs, on England's south coast, near Seaford, East Sussex. They are undoubtedly picturesque, but the chances are that they are too picturesque for their own reputation, so to speak.
Explanation? Well, the so called White Cliffs of Dover, in Kent, England, have been so popularized by the song of that name (1) that when films are made purportedly showing Dover's White Cliffs, some less scrupulous film-makers have been known to film the white, chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters instead!
The Seven Sisters Country Park forms part of the South Downs National Park, and this may be why the cliffs are still so white and the scenery is still unparallelled. Dover is a major port and its cliff area is highly developed commercially. But there is a sense in which the Seven Sisters, in all their pristine and resplendent whiteness, still look the way the White Cliffs of Dover 'ought' to look. Because of the conservation régime which applies in the Seven Sisters Country Park and South Downs National Park, many of the less aesthetically appetizing aspects of development have thus been kept at bay.
Many opportunities for birdwatching and hiking are afforded by this Country Park, named for the Seven Sisters. The Seven Sisters Canoe Centre, at nearby Exceat, maintains various canoeing, rafting and kayaking facilities.
What strikes me forcibly about this area is its relative, geographical proximity to the heavily built up London area and yet it maintains an open, and unspoilt character.
June 7, 2012
(1) 'The White Cliffs of Dover', by Walter Kent and Nat Burton, was first sung in 1942 by Vera Lynn (later Dame Vera Lynn), and proved immensely popular in a war-torn Great Britain, for which the cliffs at Dover symbolized the front line against Nazi German attacks from the Continent of Europe. Interestingly, several decades later, Dame Vera Lynn sued an anti-immigrant nationalist party for using a recording of the song without permission. The White Cliffs and the song that they inspired, clearly retain a positive symbol rather than a being a catalyst for division.
Also worth seeing
Newhaven (distance: 12 kilometres) has a memorial which commemorates the ill-fated Dieppe Raid of 1942, to which Canadian soldiers contributed very substantially.
How to get there: United Airlines flies to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. (Distance from London Heathrow to Seaford: approx. 138 kilometres.) For access by road to the Seven Sisters, take M23/A23/A27/A26/A259/Gilberts Drive/Birling Gap Road. There are rail links to Seaford from London Victoria railroad station. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
Other of my hubpages may also be of interest
- Visiting the dizzying cliffs at Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, England; or: keep away from the edge!
- Visiting the Town Hall, Eastbourne, East Sussex, England: a pleasing, Victorian design by William Ta
- Visiting Eastbourne, England and its Martello Wish Tower: remembering the Napoleonic Wars
- Visiting Leaf Hall, Eastbourne, England: Continental Gothic by R. K. Blessley, opened in 1864
- Visiting Boulogne-sur-Mer, France: with its Cathedral a looming presence over land and sea