By David Bathurst
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The names of the individual Sisters are obviously fertile ground for the setter of trivia quizzes about the topography of Sussex (‘first prize a case of genuine Sussex elderberry wine’) but the walker tramping laboriously over each cliff at the end of a long walking holiday is unlikely to bother to commit the names to memory even at the risk of missing out on lucrative rewards when the question comes up on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Seven Sisters to Eastbourne (main route) 34 The South Downs Way Having negotiated the final Sister, you descend to a freak cleft in the South Downs known as Birling Gap (95), near to which is a flight of steep steps that saw use by eighteenth-century smugglers.
Just beyond Juniper Hill there is a sharp left turn, and you rise steeply upwards to the summit of Colley Hill. 8), on a good track towards the A217 just north of Reigate. There are superb views both to the north and to the south; the south brings more excellent Wealden panoramas, while to the north you have views right into the heart of London. The great vistas prompted a senior Army officer to build an ornate viewing pavilion here in 1909. Fast, largely level walking takes you past a motley collection of edifices including a watertower, Reigate Fort and a cat’s home, and forward to the A217 which you cross by means of a footbridge.
At the foot of the hill the South Downs Way officially ends, and you may then follow the promenade to reach the town centre and its impressive range of amenities. Eastbourne, with its 3-mile esplanade and fine array of shops, parks and theatres, is a most pleasant place to linger at the end of a long walk, if time is available. Two features of particular interest are the Wish Tower, formerly a Martello tower (coastal defensive fort) and now a coastal defence museum, and the bandstand which contains seats for 3,000 and offers frequent band concerts to delight audiences and passers-by.