Hiking through South Downs National Park, UK – negotiating 11 hills, observing pastoral life, English channel, paragliding and wildlife

When I looked up the hill after ascending half-way, I thought I would not be able to conquer even the first hill of the 11. Shahab, husband of my beautiful and loving niece settled in the UK, looked at me and noticing my despair encouraged me by saying he remembered a food and ice cream kiosk on top of the hill. I mustered up the courage, and a few energy drinks and an ice cream later, slowly started to climb the hill.

This was was beginning of our hike of around 20 km from the town of Eastbourne to the village of Seaford over the chalk sea cliffs on the English Channel Coast of Sussex county in South Downs National Park, UK. It was all about ascending and descending steep slopes of 11 hills, including the famous group of hills known as Seven Sisters, observing pastoral life, sun dogs, wild horses, and waterfowl in its culminating marsh section.

Paragliders taking off from the first hill.

It was October 03, 2022 and the pleasantly cold weather was in our favour. There were other hikers on the trail too, perhaps doing section hiking. I was glad that Shahab accompanied me to this hike. I may not have been able to complete it without his moral support.

This was my third long hike during a span of 4 days, the first two being at New Forest National Park. My adventures in that park can be read here.

My hiking photography geAR

I was shooting with Pentax KP and Pentax 55-300 mm PLM lens, whereas Shahab was shooting with a Pentax K-5iis and HD DA 15mm lens.

the hike in pictures – from start to finish

We traveled from the town of Eastbourne in the east to the town of Seaford in the west. We started under the sun peeping through fair weather clouds. It became overcast for a long stretch of time before the sun started peeping through the clouds again towards the end.

This was the only tree we saw on the trail and it was at the beginning.

While we hiked over the Chalk Cliffs with the English Channel being to the south of us, small sheep farms were to the north.

Two hikers ascending the hill ahead of us.

Heading towards the second cliff, a number of hikers can be seen ahead of us. However, our attention was drawn by those holes in the ground throughout the trail, perhaps made by some wild animals.

The Birling Gap. The Gap lets the hikers climb down to the banks of the English Channel through a metal stairs.

Sheep from a nearby farm in the foreground, Birling Gap in the mid-ground.

How high the chalk cliffs are with respect to humans can be seen in this picture

Shahab taking a close up shot of a caterpillar

A small boat that was sailing so slowly towards the departing sunlight over the English Channel that I gave up on it reaching the centre spot.

This marsh area was the last hurdle before our final destination of Seaford

Shahab took this picture of mine as we hiked along a man-made canal from the marsh

Perhaps a reef heron.

A little egret.

final words

Until our next blog, au revoir! Be outdoorsy, embrace diversity, and support causes for the conservation of nature!

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