Seven Sisters Country Park

Reminders of history are spread all over the Seven Sisters Country Park. The forgotten structures from WW2 are slowly being swallowed up by the land, leaving chunks of metal and concrete sticking out in the areas rarely visited by tourists and hikers. A building that was once used as a hospital has been repurposed for cattle, and the pillboxes that nestle down in the valleys are now often used as dens for kids. Crowlink, a small hamlet of houses near East Dean was once an important smuggling location back in the day. What gets me is how it all seems so new when you see it in line with the geology of the cliffs and the land. 

Millions on millions of years of sea creatures and sediment layering up formed these sheer white structures and rolling hills. It’s hard to comprehend how short our time has been here but also so impactful. The environment took an almost unimaginable time to form, yet new materials and changes have come so quickly in the grand scheme of things. Wild areas of refuge do exist here however. 

For me personally, this is one of my favourite areas to photograph. I’ve spoken to other photographers in the area who have said that they see the landscape as being quite soft, that the hills roll like bedsheets which is just so gentle in the peach morning light. In the summer, it can be a very tranquil landscape. The grass grows these really fine seeds, which look unreal when they move like waves in the wind. There are so many factors that make up the feel to the place that can’t be shown visually, such as the smell of the pollen, salt, and grass and the sound of distant chirping of birds muffled by the breeze.

For the colder half of the year, the atmosphere switches entirely. the winds really batter and hardens life here. You can find hawthorns and other hard trees which have been twisted in the direction of the pretty relentless gales. Coastal erosion is also very present, rock falls and other types of erosion are commonplace. Yet there is also a melancholy subdued nature to the place, the whistle of the winds amongst the stillness in the valley, the times that the dense fog dulls out and muffles all sounds and shapes that surround you as you walk, and the entrancing sound of the waves along the shore, they give space for quiet contemplation. The limitations photography has makes it incredibly difficult to capture the aura of the place. I imagine that doing so will be my lifelong ambition.    

The Old WW2 Hospital 

The Seven Sisters Cliffs