top of page
  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

Seaford Head and Cuckmere Haven: 100s of Great Black Backed Gulls at dusk. 12.11.21

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

This was another of my now regular Friday afternoon Seaford Head/Cuckmere Haven walks. Since I started doing Citizens Advice volunteer training on 10th September, after it has finished I have gone to Seaford Head and Cuckmere Haven by bus, arriving at either Exceat or Seaford at about 2.00; as whilst the Citizen Advice volunteer training is very good, it is quite intensive and it is good to clear my head with a walk. I get the 12 bus from the Seafront in Brighton to either Seaford, then walk over Seaford Head and up the Cuckmere Valley to Exceat, and get the 12 back from the Seven Sisters Country Park stop, or do the route in the opposite direction, starting at Exceat and ending in Seaford. Seeing the same coast every week is very interesting as I am seeing how the landscape changes through the autumn, and how the abundance and diversity of birds changes with migration. Each week the walk has been a little shorter as the nights draw in.

I have only recently found out about the name Exceat; even though I was born and bred in Brighton and have been coming to Cuckmere Haven since I was a child. Exceat in East Sussex doesn't now exist but was located near to the Seven Sister Visitors Centre in the Cuckmere valley between Friston and Seaford . The village was probably founded in Saxon times as a fishing village hidden away from the weather by the valleys. It is known that Alfred the Great had a palace in the nearby village of West Dean, and it is possible that Exceat was one of his main naval bases in his war with the Vikings. After the Norman Conquest in 1066 the village was given to Earl Mortain , King Williams half brother. He gave the land together with nearby Exceat to the Monastry of Grestein, and their nearby priory at Wilmington. During the 1100's the area was important as West Dean and Exceat paid more in taxes than nearby Lewes, the villages were associated with Seaford in their ties with the Cinque Ports. In 1305 King Edward I who was at nearby Lewes visited the villages implying a still great importance in the history of the Realm, again probably due to the local naval power. Exceat was the more important of the two villages until the 1300's when the Black Death decimated the village, and the subsequent raids by the French led to the village being abandoned by the mid 1400's . Exceat became part of the parish of West Dean in the 1500's. Exceat - (Alfred the Great's Naval Base?) (

For information about Seaford Head Nature Reserve see: Seaford Head | Sussex Wildlife Trust

For more information on specifically the Cuckmere Valley see: Cuckmere Haven, Seaford, East Sussex walk ( and Cuckmere Valley | National Trust

Rock Pipit; Splash Point; Seaford Head

Cormorants - Splash Point

Herring Gull - Splash Point


Stonechats (4 different birds)

The Seven Sisters

Great Black-Backed Gulls and some Canada Geese and Herring Gulls

Five Little Egrets; Canada Geese and Great Black Backed Gulls behind.

The beginning of the Seven Sisters and the Belle Tout Lighthouse in the distance

Canada Geese and Great Black Backed Gulls

Black Headed Gulls, Herring Gulls. Oystercatchers and Curlew

Great Black Backed Gulls taking off

Oystercatchers; Curlew and a Herring Gull


Cuckmere Haven beach



bottom of page