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Tuesday, 10 April 2007
The Seven Sisters

Seven Sisters

The Seven Sisters are a series of eight chalk cliffs on the South coast of England between Cuckmere Haven and Beachy Head.  Perhaps the number eight was not considered as having alliterative value although eight elegant elephants might have done it. 

The sea is claiming 40 to 50 cm per year, so by my reckoning these cliffs will have receded to London (89 km away) in less than 200,000 years time.

I walked the Seven Sisters (and back again) - the walk is not difficult although the ups and downs can get to you. Interestingly the temperature is warmer by several degrees in the downs than it is in the ups, and I don’t only think it’s the chill factor (the downs are more sheltered).  If you want to just walk in one direction you can park at either end and catch the bus back (it is served by various bus routes). As a rough guide (in summer) on weekdays and Saturdays you can expect a bus every 15 minutes between 9am and 5pm (and half-hourly thereafter), while on Sundays a half-hourly service runs.  More travel details are available at the Seven Sisters Country Park website.

There is a labour of love which is very small in the photograph above, so here is a close up shot of the item in question: a notice fashioned from small chalk stones (which litter the grassy cliff-top).

Heart Priya Vijay Brighton

I wondered if the two men in the photograph were the happy couple from Brighton.  Priya is a woman’s name, while Vijay is a man’s name, so perhaps they have created the work for an absent love.

Also visible in the photograph are a number of rabbit holes which I assume are the source of the chalk stones. Rabbits are alien pests in England and a serious threat to this area of chalk downland. They remove most of the vegetation and their droppings enrich the soil allowing non-chalkland plants (like nettle and spear thistle) to establish.

The Seven Sisters are named, as follows:

  1. Haven Brow
  2. Short Brow
  3. Rough Brow
  4. Brass Point
  5. Flagstaff Brow
  6. Flat Hill
  7. Baily’s Hill and
  8. Went Hill Brow.
I find these names somewhat disappointing; what about
  1. Milly
  2. Dorcas
  3. Ruth
  4. Martha
  5. Liza
  6. Sarah
  7. Alice and
  8. Adam?
Someone else was there over the past weekend and made the following observations:

We had a sun-drenched, gorgeous, lazy Easter weekend. On Friday we ventured outside of town to Cuckmere Valley, near the fabled white cliffs called the Seven Sisters, a site of many accidental dog deaths, and not so accidental human deaths. We climbed to the first cliff and I sauntered near the unguarded edge, to feel the thrill of impossible height. Seriously though, beholding a site as breathtaking as these, who in despair wouldn’t want to meet their end here?

Those who choose to end it all in places of sublime natural beauty may be accused of uncalled-for melodrama. But maybe these places are popular for those seeking to remove themselves from this mortal coil because their grandeur makes one feel small? You stand atop a blinding white cliff, with the glimmering vastness of the ocean crashing hundreds of meters below, and perhaps you realize that it’s all ok - because you are nothing more than a speck of dust…

(Pretty in Think Panzerfrau, who I think is exaggerating the height of the cliffs).

Posted by bigblue on 10/04/2007 at 10:30 PM
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