Panorama of the East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap walk in South Downs, England
Panorama of the East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap walk in South Downs, England

East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap hike

South Downs
View Photos
Trail across long Down on the East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap Hike in South Downs, EnglandCows on the trail of the East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap Hike in South Downs, EnglandWildflowers and farmer fields on the East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap Hike in South Downs, EnglandViews of the ocean and Bullock Down from the East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap Hike in South Downs, EnglandThe trail into Whitebread hole on the East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap Hike in South Downs, EnglandSouth Downs from the East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap Hike in South Downs, EnglandViews from the Beachy Head war memorial on the East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap Hike in South Downs, EnglandBirling Gap - the Seven Sisters from the East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap Hike in South Downs, England

East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap hike

Distance: 15.0km
Elevation: 314m
Time: 5-6h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.5 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty

One of the finest walks is the walk from East Dean that takes in Beachy Head and Birling Gap. This challenging South Downs walk hikes over some dramatic landscapes that change every time you look around. The immense winds along the Beachy Head coastline will leave you invigorated for the final couple of miles. Just remember to hold on to your hat!

East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap hike Map

Getting there

If driving, use postcode BN20 0DJ, to reach the free car park on Village Green Lane, East Dean. Regular trains run directly from London to either Brighton or Eastbourne, from which you can take
either bus 12, 12A or 12X to East Dean and walk to the village green car park to start the trail.

I’ve done this 29 people have done this
I want to do this 125 want to do this route

About

When to do

Year round

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

Yes, Birling Gap

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Circuit


East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap
Elevation Graph


Route Description for East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap

If you need anything at the start of the hike, just behind the car park, on the village green, is the Tiger Inn Pub and Hikers Rest Tea Room.

To start the walk from the car park, come out of the car park and go left on Village Green Lane. When you come to Gilberts Drive, cross over onto the footpath on the opposite side and go right. Follow this footpath and then cross back over when the footpath runs out and follow this path for about a quarter of a mile. As the road curves to the right you’ll see the Seven Sisters Sheep Centre ahead of you on the left. Cross over and onto the driveway for Birling Manor. After about 25m pass through the gate on your left, into the field.

Follow this same trail for just over a mile, as it passes through a couple of gates and travels alongside a flint wall and boundary fence. Here, on the right, you’ll get your first glimpse of the ocean.

When the fence line ends you pass through a gate with a small farm on your left.

At the end of the farm there are some buildings and the trail splits. Take the trail diagonally to the left, through two gates and into a field. Follow this trail in the same direction, with the fence line on your right for the next 4.5km until you reach Beachy Head Road.

Cross the road and follow the grassy trail to the right, parallel with the road. After a short distance you’ll reach gorse bushes on your left and a flint wall on the opposite side of the road. Turn left here, between the two rows of bushes. Follow this trail down-hill, taking the right trail when it forks, all the way to The Kiosk café at the very bottom.

When you reach the bottom of the hill take the trail to the right marked with the wooden sign for the misspelled ‘Whitebread Hole’. The trail takes you uphill at first, then take the left fork, heading steeply down-hill into Whitbread Hole, with a large playing field spread out on your right. The bench on the nearside of the playing field is a perfect place to rest or enjoy a picnic.

After passing the playing field on your right head uphill and take the right-hand trail of the three trails in front of you. Shortly afterwards, take the first trail on your left and follow it for just over 0.8km, as it levels out and then eventually climbs the very steep hill you can see ahead of you on your right. The cliff edge is under constant erosion so take care keep clear of the edge at all times.

When you reach the top of this windy summit you’ll find a small war memorial and incredible views of the ocean. Take the tarmac path that leads away from the memorial, and when it ends, turn left onto the grass. Follow the popular grassy trail to the left, along the cliff edge, for just over 3.2km, until you reach Birling Gap.

The views on this cliff top trail are stunning and along the way you’ll pass the iconic red and white Beachy Head lighthouse below and the Belle Tout Lighthouse on the peak, now a highly-regarded, restored private residence. Just a bit farther along you reach Birling Gap, with a large car park, restaurant and free public toilets.

Walk through the car park at Birling Gap and along the trail to the right of the toilet block. Turn left onto the stony driveway and follow it to the top of the short hill, past the houses.

Turn right at the top and follow the sign for East Dean, 1 mile away.

Walk across the field in front of you and continue straight ahead after passing the barn with the orange roof. The trail naturally curves left here but continue straight ahead instead and you’ll soon be on another trail. Follow this trail, with the trees on your right, until you reach the flint wall in the distance ahead of you.

Turn left along the flint wall, through the gate and into the field. After about 25m look for the wooden stile on your right and cross over it. Follow the trail down-hill, with the wall on your right until you come to a stone stile in the corner.

Cross over the stile to the left and follow the trail downhill, through a small patch of woods and then into another field. Turn right out of the gate and you’ll find yourself on a small lane behind the East Dean village green. Follow the lane to the right, then cross the green to your left until you reach the car park where the trail began.

Insider Hints

  • Pleasant Rise Farm, 20 minutes away in Alfriston, is one of the closest campsites to East Dean. This family friendly, and very affordable campsite, is within walking distance of the picturesque village and other walking trails.

  • The Longman of Wilmington hike, from Wilmington to Alfriston, is a great hike to combine with your visit to the area.

  • If you’re looking for a longer day out, and don’t mind getting your feet wet, consider the walk from Seaford to Eastbourne. You’ll have to get your feet wet while crossing the Cuckmere River, but this is truly a gem of a walk.

Comments

MarianneW. 6 months ago

Ace views! It is one of the longest hikes I have done so far, but it was all worth it.

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
Squarepants11 7 months ago

I had some fine time exploring East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap, I enjoyed my walk at the Birling Gap the most!

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
5h 35m Time Taken
JJenkins 7 months ago

The landscape is pretty cool. I love how windy it was when I came here!

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
5h 25m Time Taken
Hunter156 7 months ago

Trail is moderate and easy to follow. Just bring proper jacket for the chilly wind. Marvelous view of the white chalk cliffs and sea.

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
5h 30m Time Taken
Reecewill178 7 months ago

You shouldn't miss this one in the South Downs! Absolutely one of the finest hikes!

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
5h 30m Time Taken
skywalker786 7 months ago

I always feel grateful to be able to see such wonderful creations. Cuckmere River is also majestic!

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
5h 00m Time Taken
summernathan 7 months ago

Ocean views are always awesome! Everything else was just a bonus.

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
Biffo 8 months ago

brilliant views over iconic white chalk cliffs, windy and wild, but well waymarked, although it's difficult to get lost

8.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
4h 30m Time Taken
Erika Simon 8 months ago

It was a pretty long walk, but the path wasn't so difficult to follow. Just don't forget to put sunscreen, especially on a sunny day.

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
SnowdonLover 8 months ago

Moderate hike with really nice views.

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
27 Comments Show all

Similar hikes to the East Dean, Beachy Head and Birling Gap hike

Trail of the Hassocks to Lewes walk in South Downs, England

Hassocks to Lewes

Difficulty:
18km
194m
5-6h

Another gem of a walk in the South Downs. This hilly walk leaves Hassocks and heads steeply uphill to the…

Arundel Castle and Pubs walk in South Downs, England

Arundel Castle and Pubs

Difficulty:
13.5km
187m
4-5h

A great walk in the South Downs taking in history and some great pubs. This varied hike starts in the…

Trail of the Amberley to Shoreham-by-Sea walk in South Downs, England

Amberley to Shoreham-by-Sea

Difficulty:
26km
340m
7-9h

The walk from Amberley to Shoreham-by-Sea is another wonderful walk in the South Downs. Starting at the Amberley railway station,…