Birling Gap

Birling Gap is a coastal hamlet within the parish. It is situated on the Seven Sisters not far from Beachy Head and is owned by the National Trust. Coastal erosion has already removed some of the row of coastguard cottages built in 1878, and those that remain are still inhabited. There is a cafe, shop and visitor centre there, run by The National Trust, and a large metal staircase leading down to the enclosed pebble beach and the Seven Sisters chalk cliffs. It is likely that soon it will no longer exist because the amount of erosion is so large that all the houses will have to be demolished before they fall into the sea, and because the houses are not worth enough, the Government will not place a sea defence in the way. If walkers are cut off at high tide, they can climb the ladder, which is replaced often, to Birling Gap.

The beach, which was awarded the Blue flag rural beach award in 2005, is advertised by Naturist UK. It has a large number of rockpools.

Noted artist Jean Cooke lived in two cottages at Birling Gap. She painted the seascape there and died in 2008 while looking at the sea.

The main rock type at Birling Gap is chalk. Other rock types outcropping here include flint, loess and soil. The coastline is part of the Site of Special Scientific Interest Seaford to Beachy Head, which falls within the parish. The site is of biological and geological interest.

There is also extensive evidence and visible earthworks here for an Iron Age hillfort on the site – although nearly half of it has already been lost to the sea. Information boards at the site show how it would have originally looked; however, even more will be lost due to the geological nature of these chalk cliffs.

Beachy Head Rd,
East Dean,
East Sussex.
BN20 0AB



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