Cuckmere Haven Beach
Visiting Cuckmere Haven beach is a wonderful and easy day out, especially for those based around London or in the south. It’s typically quieter than most alternatives, and what it lacks in reliable sandy stretches it compensates for with spectacular views of the Seven Sisters cliffs.
Cuckmere Haven beach, also surrounded by Seaford nature reserve, offers a variety of activities. Walking into the surrounding hills or flats is enjoyable, alongside kayaking or paddle-boarding possible from the beach.
Of course, it’s still very possible to simply relax!
Cuckmere Haven beach provides a brilliant escape from the congestion of daily life and is an ideal day trip. It’s incredibly pretty, and especially worthy of visit this summer!
Though the beach itself is largely shingle-based, low tides reveal delicious sands. Being relatively sheltered, it’s seldom windy, but can form a sun trap between chalky, white cliffs. Dogs are allowed on the beach in all seasons, making it a welcoming environment.
Where is Cuckmere Haven beach located?
Cuckmere Haven Beach is on the south coast of England, nestled between Eastbourne and Seaford. Caressed by the outer reaches of the South Downs, it’s also conveniently close to Brighton, or other sites of interest like Birling Gap.
How to get to Cuckmere Haven beach?
Arguably, the easiest method of reaching Cuckmere Haven beach is driving, especially since the route from London is blessed by gorgeous scenery.
For anyone unaided by a SatNav or Google Maps, join the M23 south-bound from the M25, which morphs into the A23 followed by the very attractive A27. This crosses Beddingham roundabout, where you turn right onto the A26, winding towards Newhaven. If you turn left onto the A259, signs into Seaford should become obvious, after which signs to South Hill Barn car park become visible.
Cuckmere Haven beach parking:
No specific parking is available for the beach, but the best option is South Hill Barn car park. It’s free, large, and overflow parking can extend onto the surrounding slopes or roads. South Hill Barn also hosts a pleasant café capable of serving light refreshments.
Parking here does involve a short walk onto the beach, via a relatively even but downward-sloping path. This facilitates a gorgeous panorama, both over the Seven Sisters cliffs and over the town of Seaford from the car park.
Cuckmere Haven beach is accessible, but can be divided by Cuckmere river. Being tidal, after heavy rainfall the river flows inland at high tide, which often makes crossings difficult. Through a short (roughly 30-45 minutes) walk it’s entirely possible to circumnavigate this obstacle, strolling through the peaceful Seaford nature reserve, across a bridge closer to the road.
Aim to adapt your trip to the tide times if possible. Should this dissuade you from South Hill Barn car park, Friston car park or the Seven Sisters car park more directly reach the whole of Cuckmere Haven. This still involves an approximately mile-and-a-half walk, and both require payment. In all instances, the walking is enjoyable and non-strenuous.
The nearest train station to Cuckmere Haven beach is Seaford, just under three miles away. From London, lines connect via either Lewes or Brighton.
Though it’s possible to reach Cuckmere Haven beach following the coastline, briefly climbing back inland, a bus route also carries you towards the Seven Sisters Park Centre, a mile from the beach.
Can you swim at Cuckmere Haven beach?
Yes, swimming is permitted. On both my previous visits, I have ventured into the bracing waters for a regenerative swim.
It should definitely be noted, however, that no regular lifeguards are present. Cuckmere Haven beach is not monitored, so potential swimmers enter at their own risk. Although (high winds notwithstanding) the beach typically does not experience large waves, powerful undertow currents can persist. Subsequently, you should remain careful.
The water immediately off the shore is also shallow but can grow deep quickly. Weaker or less confident swimmers should definitely err on the side of caution, not wading beyond comfortable standing depth. Inflatables are probably not a brilliant idea, since they risk being dragged out.
Perhaps it goes without saying but, given that the shores off Cuckmere Haven beach are in the British Isles, do not anticipate tropical temperatures. Instead, expect to endure icy conditions. By most estimates, temperatures vary between 9˚ and 15˚.
Bring a wetsuit if you have one!
Cuckmere Haven Beach walks
The real charm of Cuckmere Haven is the many spectacular walks surrounding the beach to perfectly compliment your visit. Indeed, it’s only possible to access the beach by walking at least a short stretch. This would be disadvantageous for anyone hoping to step from their car into the sea, but it’s a great opportunity to stretch your legs!
The surrounding nature reserve offers a brilliant opportunity to absorb the surrounding peace, teeming with herons, swans, and other wading birds. It’s also possible to spot wild rabbits or the elusive water voles.
Cuckmere Haven to Birling Gap
Walking from Cuckmere Haven also connects to the South Downs way. By following a beautiful and undulating coastline, it’s technically possible to reach Birling Gap and Beachy Head. Though navigating this stretch directionally is straight-forward, I hesitantly restrain from recommending this walk, since it covers a lot of distance.
I would, however, unreservedly propose climbing the first of the Seven Sisters cliffs, a hill directly adjacent to Cuckmere Haven beach. A steep, chalky path provides a challenging ascent towards deeply rewarding views from Seaford Head. It can also grow slippery.
By following an alternative route set back from the beach, it’s possible to climb more easily with a gentle incline. Personally, for the immediately pulse-raise, I prefer the exertion of mounting the steepest section.
Camping near Cuckmere Haven
Since the area surrounding Cuckmere Haven beach is protected, wild camping is not a possibility and permission cannot be obtained. Numerous signs strictly forbid the practise, alongside outlawing starting any fires.
The closest available camping facilities are the Cuckmere camping pods. These nicely balance the luxury of glamping with the breath-taking scenery and immersion in the natural world. For anyone hoping to extend their stay, this year-round option might be considered.
Alternatively, I do concede camping, or even glamping, is not universally appealing. The town of Seaford hosts numerous hotels, from which Cuckmere Haven beach can be easily accessed, whilst several are also dotted about closer to the Seven Sisters park centre.
Given the ongoing developments regarding COVID-19 in the UK, travel restrictions remain in place and should be considered in any plans you make. The latest COVID-19 travel advice should be checked before you travel.
Currently, it’s possible to travel within England as the stay-at-home order has been lifted. As of the 12th of April, border crossings from Wales will also be permitted.
Thanks for reading! Visiting Cuckmere Haven beach was originally written for Tales from a Tent – check it out for travel across the UK! Alternatively, explore some of the short stories or latest travels over here!
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