Catherine, verucca and all, felt a walk was within her today, so we set off back to Birling Gap. Today we would be doing the Seven Sisters, something we had been looking forward to for a long time. On the drive down we saw The Long Man of Wilmington…
…and the Litlington White Horse.
Both of these figures are cut into the chalk hills. The Long Man was originally thought to date back to the Iron Age, but more recent research suggests it dates to the 16th or 17th Century. The White Horse was cut in the 19th Century, replacing an earlier figure.
Once we parked at Birling Gap we started the walk west, which at first took us up an unmade road.
We walked through a gate at the top and into open clifftop countryside. This marked the beginning of the Seven Sisters.
The Seven Sisters are a group of eight chalk cliffs – yes, eight! An eighth cliff is in the process of being formed by erosion. Mother Nature, you see, is as fertile as ever and still producing offspring. It is good to know that she is still making the effort, I think, given that we seem to try and destroy a large proportion of what she produces. From east to west the sisters are West Hill Brow; Bailey’s Hill; Flat Hill; Flagstaff Point (this is the new sister); Brass Point; Rough Brow; Short Brow and Haven Brow.
The sisters were formed at the end of the last ice age, over 14,000 years ago. As the snowcaps melted, great rivers were formed as the melt-water flowed into the sea. These rivers cut valleys into the chalk. At the end of the ice age, the rising sea levels cut back inland, and as the coastline eroded, so the cliffs were formed. The Seven Sisters were given their shape.
It was easy to imagine we were walking in ice age valleys.
The erosion continues to this day and was all too apparent. It is said that the whiter the cliff, the more recent the exposure of the chalk. The Seven Sisters looked very white. There were places where we could see further cliff falls waiting to happen.
We set off on our journey to visit each of the Sisters (keeping away from the cliff edge as we went).
Points on this part of the walk (copy and paste the co-ordinates into Google Earth):
- The Long Man of Wilmington: N 50° 44.575 E 000° 12.075
- Litlington White Horse: N 50° 47.305 E 000° 08.520
- Birling Gap: N 50° 44.575 E 000° 12.075
- West Brow Hill: N 50° 44.755 E 000° 11.700
- Bailey’s Hill: N 50° 44.880 E 000° 11.400
- Flat Hill: N 50° 44.960 E 000° 11.050
- Flagstaff Point: N 50° 44.999 E 000° 10.800
- Brass Point: N 50° 45.140 E 000° 10.400
- Rough Brow: N 50° 45.200 E 000° 10.160
- Short Brow: N 50° 45.275 E 000° 09.900
- Haven Brow: N 50° 45.375 E 000° 09.575
Walk #48 Statistics (of which this post forms the first part):
- Date of Walk: 1 April 2013
- Walk #48 total distance covered: 7.82 miles
- Coast of Britain Walk Total Distance Covered: 390.67 miles
- CLICK HERE FOR LINK TO INTERACTIVE MAP!!!
Yikes! That looks really scary. How far is the recommended distance to stay from the cliff edge?
I have no idea! They fence off the really dangerous parts, but otherwise a lot of people go right up to the edge. The paths that have been formed by hundreds of walkers seem to be a good 30 or so feet back though!
I wonder how far back they were when those paths were started!
I suspect they were much further forward and are now no more!