Cuckmere Haven

Book 1 walk 31 Glynde to Seaford
Book 2 walk 28 Seaford to Eastbourne
SWC Walk 90 Berwick to Exceat or Seaford

Set dramatically between Seaford Head and the white cliffs of the Seven Sisters, this beach gives you a thrill rare on the south coast of swimming from a lovely wild beach (the only buildings are three old coastguard cottages). Since you have to get to it on foot (the nearest car park and bus stop are at Exceat, 20 minutes walk inland), it is also less crowded on sunny Sundays than other south coast beaches - though by no means deserted.

The beach is divided into two by the Cuckmere River. Scenically the east side of the beach is much better with a bigger beach. The only way to get from one side to the other is to walk up to Exceat Bridge, which takes 20 minutes up, 20 minutes back (It is a very pretty walk, however). At low tide you may be able to ford the river as it crosses the beach - but see comments below on this.

  • Be sure not to get caught in the current of the Cuckmere River where it spills out into the sea. At present it is flowing straight out to sea between the two beaches, but in 2014 winter storms created a shingle bar at the mouth of the river so that it swept to the right, across the west beach. Particularly when the tide is on the ebb this river current can be very strong and extend out to sea for some distance. It is usually easily visible if you look at the beach from above.

  • For around three hours either side of low tide, swimming is in any case very tricky here, as the sea retreats over a wilderness of pebble and rock. This is definitely a beach to swim at high tide.

  • At low tide it may be possible to ford the river as it fans out across the shingle. But be careful as even relatively shallow water can knock you off your feet if it is fast flowing.

  • Food and drink can be found at Exceat: the Cuckmere Inn by the bridge, and the farmhouse tea room in the National Trust-run visitor's centre, 400 metres further east along the road.

  • Buses: 12 and 12A Brighton double decker buses go very regularly from Exceat to nearby Seaford until late at night. See www.buses.co.uk for details.

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