Visiting London: Day 5 – Day Trip to The Seven Sisters and South Downs
I wanted to end my day trip adventures on a high note and I hit the mark with this one. One of the most popular destinations to visit, especially from London, is Brighton. My last day trip from London, on March 23rd, consisted of not only a day trip to Brighton but to The Seven Sisters, South Downs, and other cool hidden gems!
Prior to booking this day trip, I contemplated whether I wanted to explore Brighton and the surrounding area(s) on my own for a few days. That’s how much I wanted to visit Brighton, The Seven Sisters, and other locations. However, as I did more research, I quickly realized that getting around the area without a car would be a bit of a stretch. There are buses, trains, and other transportation I could’ve used but it didn’t seem worth it if I wanted to visit for only a couple of days.
Related Post: Visiting London: Day 4 – Day Trip to The Cotswolds
Thus, I decided to book a day trip from London to the locations I wanted to visit. I found one on GetYourGuide which, as I mentioned before, included a trip to Brighton, South Downs, The Seven Sisters, and other cool areas. Click here to check out the one I went with!
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Meeting up for the tour
For this tour, I had to meet up with the group inside the London Bridge Train Station, outside of the main ticket office for 9:15am. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve ventured into this station, so I had a bit of a hard time navigating my way through the station. But alas, I finally found my group!
Don’t worry, there are instructions on where to meet your group and how to get to the meet up location. All the information is mentioned in the tour information section. But it’s still a task trying to follow certain directions.
Once all of our group was present, about 6 or 7 of us altogether, we went onto the platform to wait for our train to Brighton. Essentially, the first bit of the day consists of traveling to Brighton with the guide. By train, it took about 1.5 hours to get to Brighton. I had some lovely conversations with the guide (who is from Brighton) and two other girls who were in my tour group. When we arrived in Brighton, our guide escorted us to the tour bus and tour guide for the day.
We bid our guide from London a nice farewell, boarded the bus, and took off for the first location point.
Day trip itinerary
This small group day tour would take about 9.5 hours to complete and consisted of 7 stops in the South Downs/Sussex area of England. Basically, the trip itinerary would be short bits of exploration in different parts of the south eastern portion of England.
We were making more pit stops throughout the whole day, as opposed to stopping at 3 to 4 locations. Since we were making more stops than other day trips, I knew we REALLY wouldn’t have time to thoroughly explore an area. However, I was also very excited to visit more locations on a day trip. The itinerary consisted of visiting:
- Devil’s Dyke
- Middle Farm
- The Long Man of Wilmington
- Beachy Head
- Birling Gap
- Seaford Head ( The Seven Sisters)
- Brighton – last stop of the tour where you could explore on your own
Quite the undertaking for a day trip, right? You’re getting a lot for your money and you see other neat locations you just wouldn’t normally see with a bigger tour group. You got the best of both worlds: seeing The Seven Sisters and South Downs, while also seeing some cool hidden gems as well.
The first stop on the itinerary, Devil’s Dyke, was a beautiful one. Now, the first stop we took wasn’t actually at Devil’s Dyke. It was at this overlook point which was a short walk away from the actual location of Devil’s Dyke. We pulled into the parking lot of the overlook of the Sussex area. From atop of the hill, you could see the beautiful village, sheep, and greenery below. All around you, you can see the hills of the countryside. It reminded me of Pennsylvania, because of the hills and farms in the area. It was a bit hazy at that day, so the view wasn’t crisp and clear. Nonetheless, the views were beautiful and our little group enjoyed our time here.
From that overlook point, our tour guide took us along a narrow path to get to the actual location of Devil’s Dyke. It took about 10 minutes to get there. Devil’s Dyke is a dry valley, in the shape of a “V”, in South Downs that’s surrounded by beautiful hills and green views. Not only is this formation a beautiful sight to see but our tour guide said there’s a local legend behind the name.
Long story short, according to legend, Devil’s Dyke was formed by the Devil himself. He dug a dyke in an attempt to dig through South Downs to drown the people in their villages with water from the sea. He was angry at the people of the area for converting to Christianity. Well, needless to say, the Devil’s plan failed and today, what’s left is that “V” shape of a valley. I enjoyed listening to it and taking in the beautiful scenery.
Next up, Middle Farm. I found this to be a cute little addition to the tour, because you don’t normally stop at places like this while on a day tour (unless it’s a tour to specifically explore farms). The heart of the tour was The Seven Sisters, South Downs, and a bit of Brighton. So, being driven to this cute little farm in the Sussex area was a nice treat and change for a day tour.
According to our tour guide, Middle Farm is a legit working farm that’s open to the public. You can peep at the farm animals and see how they tend to the fields. Plus, you can also stop by the little farm stands and shops they had on the premise to shop for flowers, alcohol, beverages, food, and other items.
Lunch at Middle Farm
After exploring the outside portion of Middle Farm, myself and the girls I met on the tour, all went inside to the tea shop for some tea and food to eat. With this tour, you’re given a card which can be used to get a free tea or drink of your choice. All you have to do is show it to the people working inside and they’ll take the price off your bill. I decided to get an Earl grey tea with some Scottish shortbread. I loved the shortbread but I did not like the Earl grey tea at all. It wasn’t my vibe; I couldn’t get used to the taste and I honestly didn’t finish it.
I have to admit, I’m not really a tea person. I’m an iced coffee girl but I gave that Earl grey a try since I was in England. Can’t say I’ll be having that flavor of tea again. Anyways, after my shortbread, I also got a cheese scone to take with me on the bus. The scone was good, a bit dry for me but still good. That concluded our time on Middle Farm. It only took about 30 to 40 minutes, then we were off to our next destination.
Related Post: Visiting London: Day 2 – Exploring with Friends
The Long Man of Wilmington
We had to drive on the backroads, through the beautiful English countryside, to get to Wilmington in East Sussex. Our third stop was to see the Long Man of Wilmington, which is a carving of a giant on the hill side. It’s right off this little backroad you take to get to the Long Man, on a hill, to either your left or right (depending on the direction you come from). The cool yet strange thing about this carving on the hill side, is that no one knows who carved it or why. It’s been there for centuries and not even the people of the area back then knew who carved it or what it stands for.
For another cool addition to the tour, we also saw a horse carved into the hill a little ways down the road from the Long Man of Wilmington. The horse carving was made about 200 years ago when Queen Victoria was inducted. We know more about this carving than the Long Man carving. It’s so intriguing to me!
At the time of the tour, there were no other tourists visiting the Long Man. I believe there are tours which specifically take you to this area to see the carving up close. However, our tour group did not do that as we were pressed for time. But it was amazing to be the only group in the area with a clear view of the carving.
We’re a little over half way done with the tour at this point. We’re really getting to the areas which the day tour is primarily centered around: seeing the beautiful rolling white cliffs of the English coast.
This fourth stop on the itinerary wasn’t very crowded or filled with tourists. Beachy Head doesn’t have a clear view of the Seven Sisters but it does have lovely views of the white cliffs in the area. We even saw a little lighthouse from a distance. The coastal line of England is beautiful, we all took our sweet time admiring its beauty, taking pictures, and footage!
The second to last stop of the tour was to Birling Gap. Now this area, was more crowded and touristy than the previous location. Why? Because this area gives you a clearer view of the Seven Sisters. Also, you’re able to walk down the stairs to the beach front below! Being on the beach, with views of the Seven Sisters and other white cliffs, what’s not to love?
I must say, the view of the Seven Sisters you see is good but not the best. You’re sort of at the Seven Sisters, looking outward towards the sea, with a sizable but small view of a portion of the Seven Sisters. Even so, the view is lovely and worth the visit if you’re only able to make it to this specific spot to look at the cliffs.
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Of course, for our sixth stop, the tour guide saved the best for last. Seaford Head is more of a local area with small trails that take you through rolling hills, some smaller caged areas with animals, and near the cliff edge. The reason why we were here, was because this local area gave you the best views of the Seven Sisters!
Instead of being at the Seven Sisters looking outward, you were a ways away looking directly at them. Basically, Seaford Head gave you a full picture of the Seven Sisters, whereas Birling Gap only gave you maybe half a picture.
From here, you could see all 7 glorious, rolling white cliffs along the coast. The view of the cliffs and the water were stunning! We spent quite a bit of time here, near the cliff edge, admiring the beauty of nature. I knew when I was visiting London, I had to make it over to the Seven Sisters. I can say, the trip was worth it!
Dinner with friends
The end of the tour meant returning to our original pick up point in Brighton, the train station. We were dropped off around the corner from the train station. From here, you had the choice of either returning to London or staying in Brighton to explore a bit more. Since you didn’t really get a true chance to explore Brighton with the tour group, I recommend you do so after the tour.
The lovely girls I met and I were very hungry after our tour. Also, at this time of year around 6pm, it was practically almost dark and we wanted to get some dinner before returning to London.
We walked up the hill from our drop off point to Fuller’s Pub. It was close to the station and I wanted to try fish and chips, so we all collectively agreed to go here. However, they ran out of fish and chips so I couldn’t get that. So, I got some beer and mac and cheese. Not very British, I know. But I was starving, they didn’t have the original food item I wanted to try, and I didn’t feel like trying anything new. Therefore, I went with one of my comfort foods.
Our return to London
Once our dinner was finished, we walked across the street to the train station and boarded the train. Thankfully, there were three of us together, because apparently the paid return ticket we had is considered a group ticket. Meaning, if we didn’t have at least 3 people to qualify our tickets as a group ticket, we wouldn’t have gotten on that train. The tour guide from London didn’t mention that little detail to us; he just said your return ticket is paid for and you can board. I guess he assumed the whole group would collectively return together instead of going at separate times?
NOTE: Your return train ticket is considered a “GROUP” ticket since you’re with a tour group. When returning to London, do be sure to have AT LEAST 3 PEOPLE with you when boarding for your ticket to be accepted. If not, you won’t be allowed to board and you’ll have to buy a single ticket.
Nonetheless, we all made it back to London safely and returned to our respective accommodations. I enjoyed the time I spent with these ladies exploring South Downs and grabbing dinner together. I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Final thoughts on the day tour
Honestly, out of all the other day trips I took prior to this day, this was my favorite for sure. The group tour size was perfect. It was the smallest tour group I’ve been on. This made the environment more intimate and friendly.
The length of the tour, 9.5 hours in total, was pretty good considering all the locations we visited. I truly loved not only seeing the beautiful white cliffs of the south but also the wonderful local hidden gems of the area. You can’t beat that! Not to mention that after the tour, you had the option of returning to London or staying in Brighton. You got to leave whenever you wanted. So, if you wanted to explore Brighton a bit more, you had the opportunity to do so.
The only caveat, is that you need to have at least 3 people with you when you board the train. Because the tour group tickets are technically “group” tickets, you can’t board the train by yourself with that type of ticket. Thankfully, myself and the other two lovely girls I met on the tour were with me, so this wasn’t a problem.
Overall, I loved exploring more local spots and hidden gems. When I’m traveling, I try my best to do this as you get a better perspective and view of the local area. This day tour was awesome, because it gave you just that! To someone like me, this was a treasure trove of wonderful local sites, views, and legend. I HIGHLY recommend this specific day tour of the Seven Sisters and South Downs to anyone visiting London, who’d like to take day trip away from the city. You won’t be disappointed!