Sunday 1 September 2019

9. My Kilimanjaro Training - 5 months in....Seaford to Eastbourne and the Seven Sisters


Thanks for dropping into my latest blog from my Kilimanjaro Training - time is flying by and I now have only 6 weeks to go before I head out to the big 'K'.

So, let me fill you on my trip news and updates on my training - this time heading to Sussex and the South Downs, right to the seaside to take on the 21km hike from Seaford to Eastbourne over the Seven Sisters...

But first...more trip preparations...

Before and after - fortunately I only needed two vaccines for Tanzania - boosters for Typhoid and Diphtheria/Tetanus/Polio, since I've had sooooo many stabbings from my worldly travels, my vaccination book is running out of space! one in each arm from the lovely people at Nomads Travel Clinic, Bond St, London. Highly recommend them - the nurses are lovely and kind, even if they give you a dead arm for a few hours! I also picked up a helping of Diamox pills to help with the altitude sickness, don't worry I will trial them first!

*Fun fact - the Bond St clinic was actually the same clinic all the celebs came to to get all their medical bits and bobs sorted for the famous Comic Relief Charity Kilimanjaro Challenges. That's a comfort! 

New training bag! well...actually its not mine to keep its on loan from professional mountain and expedition leader Jo Bradshaw I met at through a community called the Yes Tribe at the Adventure Travel Show earlier this year. I was after some free equipment or at least some of it to rent for my expedition to Kili and inspired the idea of giving a donation to her charity Place2Be which supports mental health in children in return of loaning me this 36 litre Osprey backpack. 

Win, win! 

So I've now started training and getting comfortable wearing the very pack that I will be climbing Kilimanjaro with - I hope its a lucky charm and will help me on the journey to the summit.  

Seaford to Eastbourne

So back to the adventure down south....I love being by the coast and the sea air so I used all this Kilimanjaro training as an opportunity to venture away from the North Downs and head down to East Sussex to hike over the steep Seven Sisters from the towns of Seaford to Eastbourne - a good 21km! 

I decided to go out with a walking group this time round to take on the Sisters called Hiking in London which I was soon to discover was a Spanish led hiking group so there I was, the only Brit ready to take on the 'hermanas' with Team Espana! 

Getting the train down from London, watching the swishing sea coming into view we started the trek on the seafront of Seaford after a lengthy wait of EVERYONE needing the station toilets or in my groups case 'los banos'
Seaford Beach 

The Sussex coastal town is home to a Martello Tower from 1810 which formed part of a string of 74 towers to defend against French invasion in Napoleonic times.

Its also the main starting point for joining the 280 hectare Seven Sisters Country Park from the marine promenade and onto the first sister in the cliff siblings. 

The Seven Sisters are a series of white chalk cliffs and are set within the Seven Sisters National Park - they're actually remnants of dry valleys in the South Downs and were formed at the end of the last ice age by glacial meltwater

And....the seven sisters got a little sister as of late, the extra one has been created by coastal erosion over the years - one extra cliff to climb!   

Setting off up to Sister #1

View of Seaford Town - feels great to be back at the coast! 

Following the undulating cliffs you eventually drop down to the beach and Cuckmere Haven, an area of flood plains where the River Cuckmere meets the English channel between Seaford and Eastbourne. Our walk leader Senora Maria, decided to lead us around the lagoon and over the river along the trail to Seaford View Point so we could get back onto the South Downs Way and onto the next series of cliffs.


Taking a detour along the River Cuckmere....

Crossing the River Cuckmere and we recuperated at the entrance to the Seven Sisters Country Park visitor centre rejoining the South Downs Way and uphill past the 'meanders' of the river to get back on track with the cliffy sisters....

The meanderings of the River Cuckmere - not quite like an English country picture without a sheep! 

Gracious Senora Maria....

Ahhh, always some satisfaction looking back on how far you've come - Cuckmere Haven from the East side, you can see the coastguard houses we passed nestled at the base of the first sister.

Video diary.....from a blustery top!

The road ahead, you can see the Belle Tout lighthouse on the 6th or 7th cliff on the horizon - that's where we're heading! 

With a bit of naughty fun on the way...

Looking out onto the English Channel

So, after a bit of up and down hiking over the undulating cliffs, we eventually came to Birling Gap, an enclosed pebble beach just 3 miles away from Beachy Head where I got to experience a Spanish fiesta which was 'lunch time' and boots off!

Complete with singing and a bonus of belly dancing!

The Birling Gap also gives you the opportunity to head on down to the enclosed shingle and pebbled beach to feel the monstrosity of the English Channel and look up at the towering chalk cliffs.

Group photo #2

After a bit of fun on the beach, we vamosed and continued the hike further following the South Downs Way (follow The National Trust acorn!) up and over the sisters for a further 3 miles.....

.....towards the 14 metre Tout Belle Lighthouse perched on top the 6th..or...maybe 7th Sister - its hard to tell! The lighthouse was named 'Britain's most famous inhibited lighthouse' because of its striking location and its use in Film and TV and has been around since 1852. You can even stay up there now, as of 2008 it was restored and converted into a luxury bed and breakfast.

Funny enough, the lighthouse was actually moved 17 metres in one piece away from the cliff edge in 1999 to stop it falling victim to coastal erosion.   

The pilgrim to the lighthouse - amazing how many people were out doing this trek!

Whilst I've been doing my training for Kilimanjaro over the past 5 months, I've been conscious about practicing climbing slowly which is necessary out on the mountain to slowly acclimitise to the altitude on Kilimanjaro.

Be the tortoise....

The closer we walked to the top of the lighthouse - the windier it got, so we couldn't resist trying to fly with the gale like the Eastbourne Air Show we were treated to see soaring past the cliffs.


Pushing on through the wind we saw the familiar lighthouse of the Beachy Head headland marking the final push over the seven sisters - or maybe we were coming to the extra 8th sister....directly east of the humpy siblings of chalky cliffs...

Beachy Head - 'The Eastern Gateway' to the South Downs Way 

Getting a little bit daring and adventurous with the cliffedge view....Oh Dios mio!

Behold Eastbourne! Our final destination and the 'sunniest place in England'..well not today perhaps!

And so pushing through over the final sister with my Spanish compadres, we began our descent through the heathland and down onto the start of the South Downs Way drifting back into the urban township of Eastbourne where our trek comes to an end and smashing 21km!

Just a great day spent by the seaside!


Thanks for reading my latest adventure from my Kilimanjaro Training from the seaside - I'm just 7 weeks away from Kilimanjaro and hope the coastal trek was a good practice. Thank you to everyone who has donated to my climb to help charity 'Action For M.E' which supports those living with 'Chronic Fatigue Syndrome' like my sister and 250,000 people in the UK who are unable to look out to see the view I'm seeing here.....let alone attempt to climb a mountain! 

So thank you so much and if you haven't donated and would like to help with a few spare pounds, please see my Just Giving page still open for business! I'd really appreciate your help! 

See you next time where my next training walk is heading north inland to the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Beauty, dragging along my friend Nicky, who likes to eat lots of blackberries....  

Training Walk Distance: 21km (13 miles)

Peace and Ciao! 

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