Brighton is not only attractive in the town center but also surrounded by the beautiful natural landscapes. Bounded to the South Downs National Park, Brighton’s outskirts possess characteristics on its chalk hills, grassland and meadow. The following are the top 3+2 must-visit places easily reachable by public transportation from Brighton.
Seven Sisters Country Park
The ‘Sisters’ are a wavy series of chalk cliff-edge summits by the English channel. As the name hinted, there are eight hills with seven dry dips in between, facing the coast. The area around the cliff is called Seven Sisters Country Park which covers 280 hectares of wide grassland. This also includes pebble beach and meandering river valley, making it a destination place for canoeing and paddle boarding.
Seven Sisters view from the Beach Trail
Geographically it is located in Seaford, a coastal town between Brighton and Eastbourne. Going to Brighton’s outskirts from the city center can be done by taking bus Coaster (12, 12A, 12X), or bus 13X. The Coaster buses run Monday to Saturday every 30 minutes, while the latter operates only 3 times on Sunday.
It will take about 1 hour 15 minutes by buses 12 and 12A, while only less than 1 hour by 12X and 13X. Since all buses pass along the seaside route, I recommend to take a seat on the proper side of the bus to see the pretty coastal view, whenever available. Choose the right seats when going to Seven Sisters, and the left side of the bus on the way back to Brighton.
Arriving in the Seven Sisters Pak Center bus stop, you can visit the center first which has a tiny museum, cafe and toilets. From there, walk across the street to start taking one of the 3 trails: Seaford Head, Beach Trail, and Park Trail. Seaford Head is for the best viewpoint of the Seven Sisters, and Beach Trail is the shortest, flattest, and easiest track of all. Meanwhile, Park Trail offers more challenges with ups and downs of the hills.
The Undercliff Walks
Still in the coastal area, there are some parts of it that visitors can walk or cycle under the chalk cliff. The Undercliff Walks consist of the chalk hill and the seawall to protect the land from tides. Sometimes we could get wet by the waves coming over the seawalls.
The path lies 5 km between Brighton Marina to Saltdean as the furthest spot from Brighton city center. Visitors can also enter the track from several points, such as Roedean, Ovingdean, and Rottingdean. Other than by the Coaster buses towards Seven Sisters, we can reach the Undercliff Walks by bus 14 from Brighton city center.
The Undercliff Walks in Ovingdean
My favorite entry point is the Rottingdean. Not only access to the Undercliff Walks, my daughter and I love to play in the Rock Pooling on the beach. The place has a small outdoor cafe and public toilets, very convenient for families with little kids. All of the places are walking distances from the Rottingdean Village.
The small village itself is charming, with traditional English pubs, cute shops, and old cottages. We often stopped in the Grange Art Gallery and Museum, a Georgian-style house that nowadays served Rottingdean Public Library on the first floor, and an art museum upstairs. Rottingdean was one of the homes of Rudyard Kipling, an English writer who created The Jungle Book. That is why exhibitions about him can be found in the museum, and the garden nearby with his name.
Devil’s Dyke is another part of South Downs National Park that offers the unique experience. It is located in the north side of Brighton in an area called Weald. The name itself is already legendary. The old tale says that a devil once wanted to drown people in Weald with the sea water, because they’re converted to Christianity, by digging through the South Downs. Now that 100m dip offers a nice picturesque V-shaped valley.
With the astounding open chalkland, this Brighton’s outskirts is also famous for paragliding. Devil’s Dyke has perfect sloping terrain to take-off and land. The starting point is in front of the pub restaurant, near to a ruined fort from the iron age.
Going there from Brighton city center will take around 20 minutes by bus Breeze 77. Breeze up to the Downs is the tagline for 3 Brighton buses that take passengers to the 3 different parts of South Downs National Park: Devil’s Dyke, Stanmer Park, and Ditchling Beacon. The 3 Breeze buses only operate on the weekend, around 7-8 times a day. However, Stanmer Park is just behind
my lodging! the University of Sussex, so we can take any buses or trains going to the uni.
The other 2 Brighton’s outskirts also offer the calming sights. While Stanmer Park provides woodland and forest walks, Ditchling Beacon gives an open wide panoramic view since it is the third-highest point in the South Downs. If you’re lucky, you can meet some cattles, sheeps, goats and horses along the way, and beware of their poo.
Seven Sisters, Undercliff Walks, Devil’s Dyke, Stanmer Park, and Ditchling Beacon are the top 5 must-see Brighton’s outskirts. Although just located one-hour away from Brighton city center, they offer stunning nature that can be enjoyed by any age. With convenient public transportation, they are also accessible to anyone.