Serious inclines and descents – in other words many more ups and downs – ensured it was as challenging as every other stage of the journey.
The magnificent seven wayfarers on the last stage set out from picture-postcard Alfriston first thing along the river valley with geese and little egrets for company.
We soon walked upwards through beautiful beech wood stairways with a white chalk horse marking the hillside beyond.
Then, stepping over a stone wall, the dramatic Cuckmere haven with its oxbow lake, opened up before us. More little egrets, miniature grasses and wildflowers enriched the landscape before we started the climb on the chalk paths of the Seven Sisters cliffs.
Blues, greys, pinks and chalky white merged across the skyline to create dramatic jewels of views crowning all the experiences of the SDW to date. ( we’re not sure why it’s recommended to do the route in reverse from Eastbourne to Winchester).
We started to count the cliffs but lost the plot when teems of English language students mobbed Birling Gap, merging with international day trippers to overwhelm the solitude.
Thankfully the lighthouse and threat of a cliff fall seemed to thin them out and we were soon closer to Eastbourne than we ever imagined. A fulmar, gannet and then, what Jerry calls the ‘pitbull of the falcon world ‘ – a peregrine falcon (killing and eating a pigeon in front of David to prove his status) showed us who was really conquering these cliffs.
The final Whisky Ways left just a few drams in the bottle for the next journey. I think everyone on this journey respects the scale and majesty of the Downs. We don’t want to stop here – it’s just the start of new adventures ahead. Next time I hope I have more energy to blog before giving in to sleep.