Birling Gap and the Seven Sisters

Birling Gap is situation south of East Dean and Friston, just off the A259 on the way to Eastbourne.

For directions on how to get to Birling Gap, please see the directions page.

The size of the cliff fall in May 2016

After the recent cliff fall in May, I visited the Seven Sisters to see for myself the exact size of the monumental cliff fall. It looks big from a distance – it looks even bigger close up.

I paced the length of the fall which was 180 paces, which at an average 80cm per pace equates to 144 metres.

The seven sisters have an undulating height of between 50 metres and around 80 metres at this point but I’ll use the height of 70 metres for my calculations.

We don’t know the exact depth of the cliff fall at this point, but my guess that it was potentially somewhere between 4 and 10 metres. I’ll take an average of 7 metres.

If we multiply 144m x 70m x 7m this works out at 70,560 meters cubed.

1 cubic metre of chalk is approximately 2,499 kilograms which means the overall potential weight of this cliff fall in May 2016 is 176,329,440 kilograms or 176,329 tonnes.

A very big fall indeed.

Cliff fall with chalk being dissolved by the sea

In this picture we can see the recent fall. The white swirls are caused by the sea dissolving the chalk.

Cliff fall could fall at any time

This is the spot where the cliff fall happened. The walkers prove useful to show the scale.

You can see that there is a vertical column of chalk ready to fall at any point.

Sitting with legs over the edge of the cliff

This young lady is sitting dangling her legs over the edge of the cliff.


People enjoying their cliff-edge view.

Lots of people very near the cliff edge at the Seven Sisters

A popular spot.

People near the edge of the cliff at Birling Gap

Recent Cliff Fall May 2016

At the Seven Sisters near Birling Gap we recently had the biggest cliff fall for probably around 10 years.

You can see very clearly just how much chalk fell in the cliff fall in the comparison between a photo taken of the Seven Sisters from Seaford head on the 1st of April, compared to one taken on the 27th May, just a few days after the cliff fall happened.

The size of the cliff fall can also be clearly seen in what is probably the most popular angle to photograph the Seven Sisters, with the Coastguard Cottages of Cuckmere Haven in the foreground.

We can see this again from a slightly different angle from the Cuckmere Haven Coastguard Cottages and the Seven Sisters in the background.

Stay Away from the Cliff Edge

This recent cliff fall at the Seven Sisters clearly reminds us how dangerous it is to be too near the cliff edge and how important it is to stay as clear as possible from the underneath of the cliff. A cliff fall of the size above can shed hundreds of thousands of tons of chalk on the beach below.

Tell this to these people at Beachy Head, just slightly east of the Belle Tout Lighthouse.

People near the edge of the chalk cliffs at Beachy Head

Did you know that the chalk cliffs are crumbling at a rate of 60cm per year?

Read more about the effects of coastal erosion on the chalk cliffs at the seven sisters in the Coastal Erosion section.

If you didn’t hear me the first time – Stay Away from the Cliff Edge

It wasn’t long ago that the significant cliff falls at Birling Gap were in the news, and here we have a bunch of people very close to the cliff edge at Birling Gap where the very cliff falls happened.

People near the cliff edge at Birling Gap

Don’t get too close to the underneath of the cliff – Keep your distance

Whilst it is important to keep away from the cliff edge, it is also important to keep your distance at the base of the chalk cliffs too.

Birling Gap is prone to cliff falls

Again, at Birling Gap, a montage of people too near the cliff edge and too close to the underneath of the cliff.

The cliff edge at Birling Gap


More information on coastal erosion.

More information on how to get to Birling Gap.

If you have any questions or would like to use any of the photos from this website or from my extensive collection, please get in touch.

Did you know that I write books?

I am recognised as an authority on the lighthouses of Beachy Head, the history of the chalk cliffs and coastal erosion. I am also a writer and novelist. I’ve written books about both lighthouses and the interesting stories about how they came to exist, how they were ran and what has happened to them since.

The Story of the Belle Tout Lighthouse by Rob Wassell

The Story of the Belle Tout Lighthouse is now in its second-edition and includes fascinating information about the interesting life of this old lighthouse.

The Story of the Beachy Head Lighthouse

The Story of the Beachy Head Lighthouse helped Save the Stripes and tells what life was like for a lighthouse keeper stationed on this light station.

Pearl of Wisdom book by Rob Wassell

Pearl of Wisdom is a crime thriller adventure. “An exciting adventure. Full of twists and turns. I couldn’t put it down. A great holiday read.”