Walking the South Downs Way, Sleeping at YHA Eastbourne & Relaxing at The Eastbourne Grand Hotel Spa: The Ultimate Girls Weekend
Having a busy family and working life it can be really tricky to make sure you set aside enough time to invest in your friendships and take time out just being yourself. Last month me and two equally busy Mummy-friends decided we would book a weekend of adventure and escapism that would be purely about spending time together and doing things that we all enjoy. We made a rough plan over a Chinese and a bottle of Sauvignon and informed our other halves that the event would take place at some point in the distant future.
We decided we would walk the section of the South Downs Way that crosses the magnificent Seven Sisters. Roughly following the coastline from Seaford to Eastbourne. We’d stay at Eastbourne YHA to make it feel like a proper adventure…then reward ourselves with a morning at the Eastbourne Grand Spa the following morning. Before we knew it the weekend was upon us and we were manically last minute Whatsapping each other with questions about banana rations and hair straighteners. Here’s how we got on…
Distance walked : 16 km / 10 miles
Time taken : 10am – 4pm with leisurely lunch and beer breaks!
Difficulty : There is one steep climb where we needed to use hands to scramble up rocks. Otherwise there are numerous ascents and descents as you cross the Seven Sisters.
From Eastbourne YHA it’s possible to catch the bus to the walk’s starting point in Seaford. The bus costs £3 per person and they are very frequent making this route incredibly straight forward in terms of logistics. The bus journey to Seaford is about 20 minutes.
Once you have arrived on Seaford seafront the route is straightforward…head East and follow the coast line! The route is ideal for those lacking navigational skills but looking for a varied yet challenging adventure. From start to finish we cross freezing waters at Cuckmere, summit each and every one of the Seven Sisters, refuel on lunch at Birling Gap, get blown past the Belle Tout Lighthouse, refuel on pints at the Beachy Head Pub eventually finding ourselves back at our starting point…Eastbourne YHA.
Highlights for me were giggling as we crossed the low tide at Cuckmere. (Please note…if the tide is high an additional 2km walk is required inland to cross the river at Exceat where you’ll also find the Cuckmere Inn).
Taking in the spectacular views along the Seven Sisters. We endured pretty terrible weather but they still looked magnificent.
Peeking through the gates of the pretty Coast Guard Cottages and other quaint dwellings that are dotted along the route.
Price: £90 for our own Private Room for up to 4 with bathroom. This worked out at £30 each as there were only 3 in our party.
The hostel is in a great location for easy access to the Downs. I’ve been really impressed with my recent stays in YHA accommodation and Eastbourne was equally as good. The beds were made up with fresh linen and cosy duvets although you do need to bring your own towels. As this hostel is fairly small the communal spaces are generally quiet and relaxed.
From the hostel it’s a short walk into Eastbourne Old Town where we enjoyed a fantastic meal at the 13th Century Lamb Inn – great food, great service and the ideal cosy way to end a bracing day on the Downs.
Having enjoyed a good nights sleep at the hostel we were ready to enjoy a more indulgent version of ‘us’ time for the second day of our escape. We start with breakfast at Urban Ground in Eastbourne.
Urban Ground is a refreshingly bright and stylish cafe on South Street. The menu offers slightly healthier alternatives to the usual breakfast fry ups. I enjoyed a bacon focaccia with avocado smash and it was just perfect. We found the staff welcoming and friendly and the coffee hit the spot too.
Finally, to relieve our aching muscles from the previous days walk we treated ourselves to a relaxing session at the Eastbourne Grand Spa. Day passes can be bought for £20 which allow access to the pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. The pool area is a sublime oasis where we enjoyed some quiet time with tea before the shock of heading back home. I absolutely loved my solo swim session in the outdoor pool which was really pleasant at 26 degrees.
Despite packing a huge amount into our weekend the whole trip worked out at less than £100 each, (hostel £30, food & drink during the walk £10, dinner £25, breakfast £10, Spa £20, bus £3) we had plenty of time to enjoy each other’s company and improved our fitness levels in the process. Best of all, we all felt fully rejuvenated and ready to tackle all the curve balls that family life likes to throw our way to the best of our abilities once again!