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The white cliffs of Beachy Head and the surrounding area were forms around 65 million years ago in the Cretaceous Period, (when the last of the big dinosaurs were roaming around. This area was covered by a warm, shallow tropical sea, and as the zooplankton in the water died it sank to the seabed forming a limestone mud.

Over millions of years and with great pressures, the mud was turned into the chalk that you now see.

Running through the chalk are horizontal bands of flint, nobody knows exactly how the flint is formed, however thoughts are that when sea sponges die and are compressed they may form the flint.  

The chalk cliffs (unlike the Dover White cliffs) have no sea defences and as such they erode with sea and rain action at an incredible rate of around 0.5 metres per year on average, meaning they stay beautifully white.

Beachy Head are the highest chalk cliffs in Europe standing around 200 metres at the highest point, and the name “Beachy Head” derives from the French for “Beautiful Headland”

Wild Beauty

Geology & Erosion
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We also offer longer private charters tours to the Seven Sisters                        

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The Tour Location
Beachy Head Lighthouses

At the base of Beachy Head, is the famous red & white striped lighthouse, that is often photographed from the cliff tops but cannot be truly appreciated unless its seen from the seaward side.

To understand more about the current Beachy Head lighthouse, we need to make note of the Belle Toute lighthouse built on the cliff top in 1834, which due to its height often meant its light could not be seen by ships in low cloud or fog - (not a lot of good for shipping!)

As such a new lighthouse was built on the waters edge at the base of the cliff between 1899 - 1902 to replace the Belle Toute lighthouse, 720 blocks weighing a total of 3660 tones of Cornish granite were shaped in the quarry before being shipped to Eastbourne by train.

Each block was then taken by steam traction engine to the top of the cliff where they had built a aerial cable way from the cliff top to a wooden platform build just to the side of the building site.

All the materials and manpower were lowered to the site via the cable way - a truly amazing feat of Victorian engineering.

The lighthouse was manned by three lighthouse keepers until it was automated in 1983 and similarly to the Sovereign Tower, is now controlled from Trinity House’s operations room at Harwich.

The height of the light house is 43 metres (less than a quarter of the height of the cliff behind) and its lamp gives two quick flashes every 20 seconds and until recently its 400 watt lamp could be see for 20 miles. In 2011 the lamp was replaced by a 30 watt LED lantern which can only be see to around 8 miles - this is due to the fact that with the navigational abilities of modern ships, lighthouse are not as important as they once were.

The lighthouse was only painted its famous red and white stripes in 1951, before this time it was painted black and white.

The lighthouse stripes have been flaking off for several years and with money raised locally by the proud residents of Eastbourne and the surrounding area, it is scheduled for a new coat of paint in 2013.

Seven Sisters