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Beachy Head to Birling Gap Walk from Eastbourne

By Dave Roberts   

on January 15, 2020    No ratings yet.

Posted as a walk in – England, Europe, South Downs National Park

Beachy Head to Birling Gap Walk from Eastbourne

Further Details

Route Summary:

A circular walk up Beachy Head from Eastbourne on the Sussex Heritage Coast

Route Start Location: Eastbourne Downland golf course

12.93 km 328 m 4 hours

Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.

Activivity Type: Moderate Walk

Summits and Places on this Route


Plenty of facilities in Eastbourne, the Beachy Head Pub, National Trust Cafe at Birling Gap and faciliteis available at East Dean.


High clifftops require obvious care.

Remember that we cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent. Read up on Mountain Safety , Navigation and what equipment you’ll need.

Parking :

You’ll need to reach the start of this walk using public transport, you’ll have to park in Eastbourne.

Public Transport:

There are regular services between Seaford and Eastbourne, both of which have railway stations.

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Recommended Maps


Beachy Head to Birling Gap Walk from Eastbourne Ordnance Survey Map and GPX File Download

Download file for GPS

Beachy Head to Birling Gap Walk from Eastbourne

This walk up Beachy Head starts from just outside Eastbourne, and follows the South Downs Way for most of the section towards Birling Gap before heading inland to the village of East Dean and a return to the start. In the near future, this will also be part of the official England Coast Path, which was due to be opened in 2020. Alternatively, you can finish the walk at East Dean and catch one of the numerous buses back to Eastbourne.

The route starts high, meaning that the walker is immediately rewarded with views from Warren Hill across Eastbourne as the route approaches the headland of Beachy Head. It gets its name from the French beau chef, or Beautiful Headland and is nothing to do with the word ‘beach’.

Beachy Head is the highest chalk cliff in the UK at 162 metres high and sadly ranks 3rd globally for the number of suicides. Far below is the Beachy Head Lighthouse, which was built in 1902 to replace the the nearby Belle Tout Lighthouse as the older lighthouse was often engulfed in mist and low cloud.

From Beachy Head, the walk continues along high chalk clifftops towards Birling Gap and Belle Tout Lighthouse. This was the original lighthouse on this stretch of coastline, and was completed way back in 1834. However, as it was too high it was often obscured by cloud and the cliff edge would hide it from any ships that ventured too close to the shore. Since then it’s seen various uses, and is currently a luxury B&B with breathtaking sea views from the Lantern Room. When the lighthouse was thretened by coastal erosion, the entire building was moved 17m inland, in an impressive feat of engineering.

The walk then continues to Birling Gap, where there’s an NT visitore centre and cafe. The terrace of coastguards’ cottages here are slowly falling into the sea, and are more likely to be demolished over time than moved like the nearby lighhouse. The walk then sets off inland towards East Dean, where you can finish the walk if you wish or you can continue back to the start.

More information and a leaflet with full route information on the Beachy Head to Birling Gap Walk can be downloaded from the South Downs National Park website here.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Waterford_Man on Foter.com / CC BY

Dave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.
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