Birling Gap Beach
© Robin Webster and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
The beach at Birling Gap is set at the base of the imposing, sheer chalk cliffs known as the Seven Sisters. Despite being set between the well known seaside resorts of Eastbourne and Brighton this is one of the longest stretches of undeveloped coastline on England's south coast.
Birling Gap beach is a mix of mostly pebbles which give way to the occasional patch of sand. As the tide goes out rocky platforms are revealed which provide an array of rock pools to explore.
Access to the beach is via a sturdy tower staircase from cliff level. At the top you will find the pleasant weatherboarded National Trust cafe along with a car park and row of cottages which is slowly disappearing into the sea as the cliffs erode.
The white chalk cliffs here are white for a reason, and that is the rate at which they are eroding; up to a metre a year in places. As well as meaning the cottages are falling into the sea the unstable cliffs also present a significant danger to anyone standing too close.
Birling Gap's cliffs are also of some geological interest and are a fine example of sedimentary layers. The beach is also a good place for fossil hunting.
Certain areas of Birling Gap beach are used by nudists. These tend to be a respectable walk west (or right) of the access steps down to the beach.
Just over a mile east of Birling Gap the white chalk cliffs rise to to 531 feet (162m) above the English Channel below. This is Beachy Head, the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain and notorious suicide spot.
Type of beach
Sand & shingle
Dogs friendly beach?
- Kite surfing
- Rock pooling
- Wind surfing
OS grid ref.
TV 5537 9599