The weather forecast for our our second day was cloudy but dry and we woke to a clear blue sky and it stayed sunny all day. So much for English weather forecasts.

After breakfast we drove the few miles to Friston Forest where we parked the car in one of the two official car parks. This one is on the west side of the forest about 2 miles south of Littlington.

After paying our 1.50 GBP for a day’s parking, the only option there is, we walked off into the forest heading for the little village of West Dean about a half mile away.

In spite of stopping here and there along the way to look at plants we arrived in West Dean fairly quickly and decided to have another look, we’ve been before, at the little church.

Through the village to the path through the forest to the Seven Sisters Country Park Visitor Centre. Ah yes – that path. Not quite as innocuous as it might sound.

That’s the one. It wasn’t as strenuous and didn’t take as long as you might imagine to get to the top. The next section of path was gently downhill all the way to the visitor centre and we had then walked about mile from the car. We had a brief stop here for coffee in the Exeat Farmhouse Restaurant which I mentioned on the Cuckmere Haven page from our previous trip.

So crossing the A259, Seaford to Eastbourne Road, we headed towards Cuckmere Haven.

Here you can see the Cuckmere River meandering across it’s flood plain towards the sea with the path on the left-hand edge of the picture. You can just about see the sea on the left edge of the horizon.

On our previous visit there was no livestock to be seen but this time there was. This pair were grazing contentedly each side of the path and we had just walked between them when I turned and took this photograph.

Cattle are usually nervous enough that they will move away from people if they get too near but these were obviously used to people and didn’t so much as twitch when we walked between them.

So after walking another mile we soon arrived at the beach at Cuckmere Haven.

Don’t be mislead by the sandy beach – most of it is pebbles and it’s hard work walking on them. I wanted to get some more pictures of the chalk cliffs so we walked further along the beach. Here I am taking my life in my hands, well I could have got seriously wet feet, to get the sort of pictures you see on the web site.

You will notice that, in this close-up of part of the chalk cliff, there are rows of small dark blobs. These are flints formed in the chalk and, when the cliff is eroded by the sea and the weather, they are washed out and rolled by the waves to form the rounded pebbles of which the beach is comprised.

As we started back towards the visitor centre at Exceat we saw a Little Egret in one of the lagoons.

We were back at Exceat in time for a late lunch at the Exeat Farmhouse Restaurant and then walked back through the forest, via West Dean, to our car.

As we still had some time left in the day we drove to Birling Gap and parked in the free car park there. Birling Gap is so called not because there is a complete gap in the cliffs but because the cliffs there are only about 30 feet high whereas the cliff heights either side are measured in hundreds of feet.

There is a metal stairway from the top of the cliff to the beach and this picture was taken from the top of the stairway looking west at the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs.

We did, of course, go down the stairway to the beach and walked east in the hope of seeing Beachy Head round the next corner but we reached a point where the sea was still lapping against the cliffs so were not able to go any further.

I did, however, take this picture after we’d turned round to walk back to the stairway.

On the way along the beach one could not avoid the noise of the surf. The waves crashed noisily on to the beach and, as the water withdrew, the sound of pebbles grinding as they were rolled could easily be heard. Standing there listening to that noise one could imaging how the rough lumpy flints were transformed into smaller rounded pebbles.

When we got back to the car park there was still time for another short expedition so I walked east up onto the cliff tops whilst Amanda stayed down below. Until I reached the top of the cliffs I hadn’t realised that the Belle Tout Lighthouse was so close so I had to go at least that far.

Just before I got there a long thin strip of cloud obscured the sun and I ended up waiting 15 minutes for it to clear – but what a beautiful place to have to wait. The sparkling sea to the south, the Seven Sisters white cliffs beyond Birling Gap to the west and East Dean and Friston Forest to the north.

Coming back down from the lighthouse I saw this view of Birling Gap

The sun was getting noticeably low and it would be dark within 2 hours so we made our way back to the hotel after a very pleasant day.

Tomorrow will be mostly ups and downs.