A Walk Around East Dean and Birling Gap

East Dean, Birling Gap and Charleston

Saturday was a bit overcast but dry.  After a late start getting out of the house, Amor and I decided to drive out of Eastbourne.  We were going to go towards Seaford and walk towards Cuckmere Haven.  I wanted to get a view of The Seven Sisters from a different angle, but we ended up in East Dean on a whim and had lunch at The Tiger Inn. Considering how grey the day was, there were many people (walkers/ramblers) about and the place was packed.  We had our lunch outside as there was nowhere to sit indoors.  Fortunately, it was dry and not too cold.  We both had the tuna fishcakes and salad.  I was slightly worried if I was going to manage to finish my lunch as the portions were quite generous.  We were served two very large fishcakes on a bed of mixed salad.  They were so good that I would happily have them again, except I would have a smaller portion as dessert was out of the question – no room.  After lunch, we decided to walk off our lunch and wandered around the village and did a little bit of exploring.  There are quite a few quaint and sweet looking cottages here and there.   Many of the houses are built with flint, which I find very attractive and appealing.  There is a ceramics studio, some cafés, a deli, restaurant, cricket ground and lots of open space around.  It is very pretty and quite picturesque.

We came across a house that used to be the schoolhouse. There is a plaque on the wall commemorating the evacuation of children from Rotherhithe to East Dean during the Second World War.  It is a lovely little building with a school bell on the roof.   There are also some allotments that had a few interesting scarecrows.  We came across a game of cricket being played and stopped to watch for a few minutes.  I have lived in this country for over 20 years and I still don’t understand how this game is played and why it takes days to do so.  What I do enjoy about these cricket matches is how it creates a sense of community in these small towns.

There is a National Trust walk called Crowlink which starts at East Dean and goes all the way to Birling Gap. We hadn’t really put too much thought into what we were going to do that day, but now that we know this walk exists, we might try our luck with it one day.  The only dilemma would be in working out where to start.  Do we start at Birling Gap and walk to East Dean for lunch at The Tiger Inn and then walk back again, or have lunch first, walk to Birling Gap, have a cup of tea/coffe and then back to East Dean.  Decisions, decisions!  In any event, we drove to Birling Gap.

East Dean, Birling Gap and Charleston1

There isn’t much in Birling Gap except a few dire looking houses, a B&B café/restaurant and the public conveniences.  We walked down to the beach, but as the tide was coming in, we weren’t able to walk along it very far.  Also, there was a bit of a mist coming in.  In spite of that, I still managed to take some good photos.  There was a fair amount of seaweed on the beach as well as egg casings and cuttlefish bones.  The water was quite brown and murky and churning at a nice pace.  I would love to be here during a thunderstorm as the place is quite desolate and moody when the sun isn’t shining.  There was a cycling event that took place nearby, and so the area was quite busy.  I visited the ladies’ before we made our way back home and I was impressed with the cleanliness of the place – always a plus in my book.

We drove back to Eastbourne via Beachy Head and the mist so thick that headlights were necessary.  It looked rather spooky.  It is amazing how quickly the weather can change.  It all cleared again once we were back on lower ground.

As it had been a few hours since our lunch, I suggested to Amor that I treat him to ice cream at Favoloso.  I got him Rocky Road and some other chocolate thing I can’t remember but was really good and I had Ferrero Roché and Orange Chocolate Chip.  The Orange Chocolate Chip was surprisingly good with a very orangey taste which was quite refreshing.  While eating our ice creams, we had a look in all of the shop windows on both sides of the street and afterwards we went into The Eastbourne Heritage Centre, which happens to be across the street from the ice cream parlour.  The building is not large and one can easily spend a good hour or so here if you read and look at everything available on the three floors (we only had 45 minutes before it closed).  There is information on the history of Eastbourne as well as many photographs of how the area used to look and a few artefacts.  The staff are friendly and fairly knowledgeable.  I say fairly as there was one young man there that was still learning.  The entrance fee is £2.50, which is nothing compared to some places I have been to and which I am sure barely covers the upkeep of the premises.  I also bought a little booklet about Eastbourne for the same price as the entry fee.  I am building up a lovely collection about all things in and around Eastbourne.  I just find the area fascinating.  If you are in Eastbourne and have an hour to spare, I do recommend spending some time in The Heritage Centre, and then go to Flavoloso for an ice cream afterwards, or the other way around if you wish!