Belle Tout to Birling Gap and beyond
With the release of No Remorse, the third Kent Fisher Mystery, due on 7th May 2018, I thought it would be good to celebrate some of the settings and magnificent scenery that feature in the novel.
These cliffs and the coastal path hold many memories for Kent Fisher, who regularly walks along them with Columbo, his West Highland white terrier. Kent also runs over the Seven Sisters, which rise and fall with challenging slopes that sap the stamina from your legs.
I share Kent’s view that this is one of the finest sights in England.
This is the iconic view of the Seven Sisters, taken from behind the coastguard cottages at Seaford Head. In the distance you can make out Belle Tout, the original lighthouse built on top of the cliffs by ‘Mad Jack’ Fuller.
Having parked below Belle Tout, you can follow the path east until the views towards Beachy Head open out, revealing the new Eastbourne lighthouse.
Looking at the sheer drop, it’s easy to see why Beachy Head is a favoured spot for those wishing to end their lives.
As you follow the road around and head east to climb the cliffs, you pass the Belle Tout lighthouse, which first became operational in 1834. As well as its duties as a lighthouse, it featured in the BBC drama, The Lives and Loves of a She Devil.
In 1999, the Belle Tout was lifted onto runners and moved 17 metres away from the cliff edge to save it from toppling into the sea. The Belle Tout became a residence and is now open for bed and breakfast for those who wish to enjoy the panoramic views from the glass tower.
Walking west along the top of the cliffs, the breathtaking view of the Seven Sisters soon greets you. The South Downs dip into Birling Gap, which is owned by the National Trust. Coastal erosion and rockfalls means the cafe and coastguard cottages are getting closer to the cliff edge.
Kent has his own reasons to love this area, having spent romantic times there with Gemma Dean in the past. These memories fill his thoughts when he pays another visit to the area in No Remorse.
I’d love to tell you why, but it would spoil the story.