Thursday, October 16, 2008

England's white Cliffs

Picture 1- Looking east from the Lifeboat Cottages of Cuckmere Haven to Birling Gap in the distance.
Picture 2- Looking west from the chalky beach of Birling Gap towards Cuckmere Haven.

On the south east coast of England you will find mile after mile of beautiful white chalk cliffs, these have become symbolic of England's separation and independence from mainland of Europe and are often referred to as the White cliffs of Dover or Beachy Head however they stretch far beyond these two locations. Recently I took a short drive down to my favourite part of the white cliffs in order to walk along them, enjoy the views and partake of a swift half in a rather nice pub in the area. I managed to do all three and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I parked at the small settlement of Birling Gap which is just west of Beachy Head and walked along the beach in a westerly direction towards Cuckmere Haven. It was only about a mile in distance clambering over shingle, rocks and large chalk boulders smoothed by the sea but it was awe inspiring with massive white chalk cliffs to my right towering above me and an English Channel tide rapidly rising to my left. As you can imagine I did this part of the walk with some urgency.
Arriving at Cuckmere Haven where the River Cuckmere and it's canal overflow enter the sea one can wade over to the lifeboat cottages on the other side depending on the tide and depth of course and take in it's most famous view. From the cottages you can follow the canal for around 1/2 a mile inland spotting kingfisher, stork and various other species of bird until you reach a very nice pub called the Golden Galleon. It has a lovely log fire, serves fine food and has a pleasant garden where one can sit under an apple tree whilst enjoying the tipple of their choice.
Once refreshed you can head back to Cuckmere Haven by crossing the Exceat bridge and following the winding River Cuckmere back to the shingle beach spotting WW2 sea defences along the way. Arriving here you turn east climbing up the grassy banks to the top of the cliffs as you follow the clifftops all the way back to Birling Gap remembering not to get too close to the edge.