Winning the lottery can sometimes feel more likely than a hot and sunny day in the middle of October. In the last few weeks it has become remarkably colder and darker so you can imagine how lucky my friends and I felt as the sun broke through the dim and dreary clouds and persisted to shine along the south coast of England for much of the day – a place we so happened to be.
My friends and I live in London and although we love all the treats it has to offer, it doesn’t offer everything. Want to listen to your favourite band live? Sure you can! But can you listen to the sound of the sea? Nope, no siree, ‘fraid not.
Sadly, Mother Nature isn’t a frequent dweller of the inner city so we decided we’d visit her at Beachy Head and up to Seven Sisters along the southeast coast of England. Lured in by the name of the place, as much by the prospect of its chalky white cliffs and grassy plains, we jumped in the car and headed south away from the hustle and bustle of London.
The Road Trip
The drive takes somewhere in the region of 1.30 -2 hours depending where you live in London and passes some very scenic spots and popular tourist towns like Tunbridge Wells, so its worth stopping off for a little meander if you’re feeling curious or simply want to stretch your legs. By any standards it’s a pretty town, what you’d describe as quintessentially English.
Since we were on a mission to get there as soon as possible we pressed on and sang along to the tunes blaring out from the car. Being in the car with two French guys – one driving and the other assigned to the role of DJ – I found myself listening to music I couldn’t always understand yet enjoyed because, well, a good beat is a universal language no matter where you are. Though if there’s a time you’re going to regret not paying attention in French class, it’s during a road trip with native speakers. On the other hand, if you wish to improve your French skills, then date a Frenchie. That’s what Ruchi’s doing – he gives her a reduced rate – lucky girl!
As well as music in full flow, we had a large packet of gummy sweets which (I’m sure you’ll agree) no road trip is complete without. Thankfully Ruchi is prone to motion sickness so she forfeited her share which meant more for the remaining few.
As our destination grew closer, we began looking at the road signs to ensure we didn’t miss a turning, and in doing so we noticed names of places that are so charming they would fit perfectly into a children’s novel. Say hello to names like, ‘Paradise Drive’, ‘Summerdown Lane’, ‘Beechy Avenue’, ‘Honeybell Cottage’, and my favourite, ‘Wordsworth Drive’.
Walking from Beachy Head to Seven Sisters
We soon arrived and pulled into the car park and paid the £5 fee. A few moment’s walk away there’s a pier where you can get a glorious view of the beach lined by striking chalky cliffs. They were even more gorgeous than I imagined and they provided a nice glimpse into what you should expect to see on your walk.
We opted to follow the trail from Beachy Head to the Seven Sisters; on a sunny day I honestly can’t think of a more beautiful walk to be had in England. Almost as striking as the cliffs were the bright, white clouds which created playful patterns in the sky above. But like so many beautiful and high areas surrounded by sea, Beachy Head is also a magnet for suicides. To tell you the truth, as I stood out on the cliff edge, and looked at the sea lapping back and forth across the beach below, I could see why. If you’re looking for a final resting place, then this is about as peaceful a place can be.
Equally, on a stormy day, this place must look and feel unreal. Completely exposed to the elements, I could see myself in a little cabin or cottage, listening to the sound of the sea and the roaring wind. Call it cliché if you like, but how nice and cosy would that be? Sign me up!
But on this particular day, the weather couldn’t have been any further away from cold and rain, it was hot and we were beginning to feel thirsty and overdressed in our coats and jumpers. We wanted a drink, and we wanted one now.
Momentarily distracting us from our thirst were several messages created from pebbles and chalk… we unanimously agreed that the apostrophe in ‘don’t’ was a work of art produced from only two single pieces of chalk.
As we trudged on, hunger also began to strike and if there’s one thing we couldn’t ignore, it’s an empty stomach so collectively we decided that a country pub would be our next port of call. I didn’t have any reception on my phone, but Ruchi’s boyfriend, Pierre, did and he found a place within walking distance.
Now following a different route to our initial plan, we steered away from the cliffs and moved closer inland where the landscape became grassier and more untamed. It reminded me very much of the Yorkshire Moors where hundreds of sheep graze and stone-cobbled walls surround you in every direction.
Ending the walk in Saltmarsh Kitchen, which was every bit the cosy eatery you’d imagine a 16th century converted farmhouse to be, was a good choice. The warm smell of food, the chitter chatter of strangers and the appealing vision of white-washed stone walls against wooden beams offered a welcomed retreat. It wasn’t a pub, but it had charm and a lovely courtyard to rest your feet and slurp a beer or two.
However, true to British weather, the heaven’s opened and the rain came pouring down. A part of us couldn’t believe our luck, a few minutes earlier and we would’ve been sodden, but on the downside it meant we couldn’t enjoy a leisurely walk back to the car. (Although none of us admitted it, I think we were each secretly pleased that we had an excuse to take a bus back).
After some deliberation, we made our orders and waited with the expression of a ravenous dog. I think we’d reached that point in the day where hunger had completely taken over our capacity to talk, I can’t remember a single word that was spoken before the food arrived! What I did notice though were all the walkers – young and old, English and American – we were sitting among an eclectic crowd of people as well as some serious looking hikers, dressed in outdoorsy clothing.
When the food arrived, it took the whole of 2-seconds for me to finish, it was like the devil within had spoken. It was very tasty and the portions sizes were okay but could have been a bit bigger for the walker’s appetite. However, there was an array of scrumptious baked treats, including chocolate fudge slices to lemon cake, and coconut slices to Victorian sponges, that I ‘d been ogling as soon as I entered the place. Those, my dear, finished off the meal perfectly.
So tell me, when will you go?