A visit to Britain is not complete without a visit to its coast. The coastal landscape you will see very much depends on which part of Britain you're visiting. Generally speaking, the best coastlines to visit in Britain are far from London but there are some notable exceptions.
If you are planning a trip south from London to the resort city of Brighton consider taking a half day out to view the spectacular white cliffs at Beachy Head. Better still, don your walking boots (any flat sole will do!) and take the stunning coastal walk from Beachy Head down to the pebble beach at Birling Gap. It's an easy hour's walk but Britain's island status, if ever in doubt, cannot be better revealed than right here.
At 175 metres high, majestic Beachy Head is the highest cliff on the south coast of England, located due south of London and about 40 minutes to the east of Brighton. The cliff forms the eastern end of Britain's newest National Park, The South Downs, which sweeps along the coast west from Beachy Head to the Seven Sisters Country Park before heading inland. The view from the clifftop along the coast to Brighton and across the sea towards France is nothing short of spectacular.
The view down to the 43m-high lighthouse from the top of Beachy Head
The cliffs are made from chalk, a very soft rock that was formed millions of years ago by the settling of organic sediment in warm shallow seas. The winter storms that eat away at the base of the vertical cliffs sometimes lead to the cliffs collapsing top to bottom, so don't walk close to the cliff edge. PLEASE TAKE CARE!
But this remarkable geology and the stunning landscape that it has created has ushered Beachy Head firmly into British folklore. Smugglers once used this coastline to import contraband from the European mainland and today Beachy Head is a fabulous leisure destination for walkers and sunseekers. Sadly though, it has become a notorious venue for people committing suicide, as described in the final scene of the cult British movie Quadrophenia about the Mods and Rockers of the 1960s.
The walk from Beachy Head to Birling Gap
Whether you join our tour or you travel there on your steam, we recommend walking from the highest clifftop at Beachy Head westwards and downhill along the coast to Birling Gap where there are steps down to the foot of the cliffs and onto the pebble beach below. Along the way the views of the Seven Sisters Country Park - named to reflect the seven clifftops that can be seen from out at sea - along the coast to Brighton will be indelibly etched into the memory.
Beware good ol' British weather, mind, especially on the coast. Thinking cotton? Take wool! The weather at the top of the cliffs can swing from wild to benign and back again within minutes - from horizontal rain to crystal clear blue skies, from peasouper fog to dazzling sunshine - so check the forecast before you go. And again when you're there!
How to get to Beachy Head from Cambridge
Join us on our Brighton & Beachy Head tour from Cambridge.