February 2013 - Hike #12
Troop hike #12 Beachy Head & The Seven Sisters
(10 miles)

5 Scouts, 3 leaders met at the hut for a kit inspection prior to the hike which was very useful as it highlighted some pack and boot issues. It was also a good opportunity for some extra training handing out equipment and explaining the perils of walking near cliffs.

On the train the snow fell all the way to Eastbourne (known as the 'sunshine town') where incredibly the sun came out! The temperature was still very low, with a light breeze but most importantly visibility was pretty good.

The first section of the hike is a nice stroll along the beach front followed by a slight hill up to the start of the South Downs Way. The amount of complaining we got from that small rise from the coast I thought we were going to be in for a dreadful day, especially as the next challenge was the infamous Beachy Head climb.
Fortunately they soon warmed up a bit and started to get into it. Most people needed to be encouraged to get to the top of Beachy Head but everyone loved the challenge. They all still collapsed at the top though!

The next section was along the cliffs where there was a 'situation' going on. A woman was sitting on the edge of the cliff being talked to by a rescue officer. She was obviously considering jumping. This of course led to some serious questions and discussion from the Scouts which were worthwhile. After assuring the Scouts that now that people were on the scene the lady would most likely change her mind. We carried on.

The views across to Belle Toute lighthouse and the in-your-face geology started to interest them all and we were able to tell them much of what they wanted to know about the rocks and the formation of the landscape.

Lunch was at Birling Gap where the Scouts brewed tea and hot choc and wolfed down lunch. The temperature was getting very low by now, around -1 but with wind chill too, so we soon got ourselves together and started the Seven Sisters to warm up again.

After what had been done already the Seven Sisters would be a real challenge to anyone new to hiking and so there was a certain amount of coaxing needed to keep some people going over this roller-coaster ride of small hills. The rest of the Scouts were doing better than expected and I think were surprising themselves with their new-found stamina. By the end they were all reasonably tired but feeling very proud of themselves.

The bad news was - this wasn’t the last hill. Exceat Hill overlooks the famous meanders at Cuckmere Haven and Foxhole Farm where we camped last year. It’s also the next part of the South Downs Way and would take us to our finish point at Exceat. That last bit just about finished them all off! What’s worse – we watched the ice-cream van drive away 5 minutes before we got there. Nooooooo!

We arrived at Exceat bus stop about 3 minutes before the bus, took a very pleasant ride back to Eastbourne Station and got on the train home 2 minutes before it left. Perfect timing or what!

After changing trains twice we were back at the hut for 6.15 and were able to pack away all of the equipment and say goodbye to lots of sleepy people by 6.30.

A great day out and I think everyone really enjoyed it. They will certainly all be feeling it this morning!