You’ve heard me talking about the fact that 2023 is the UK’s Year of the Coast. Now, as part of a year-long, national initiative to raise awareness of our coastline and inspire new audiences to love, visit and protect the coast, a glorious celebration of the newly renamed King Charles III England Coast Path will take place in East Sussex, on and around Seaford Head and Cuckmere Haven from 20th to 24th September.
‘Walk the Chalk’ will be an innovative community celebration in an extraordinary and world-famous location. Centre-stage will be jaw-dropping coastal views and the monolithic chalk cliffs of the Seven Sisters, icons of the South Downs National Park. The walk is the flagship celebration amongst nine national events this year to mark the opening of the King Charles III England Coast Path which, when complete, will be a 2,700-mile coastal trail around the country, the longest of its kind in the UK. The celebration week will delve into the joys of being in nature and the invigorating experience of walking on the coast, drinking in the exceptional green and blue spaces we’re so lucky to have on our doorstep.
Supported with a grant of over £200,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Walk the Chalk is a free, five-day event with opportunities for the coastal community to meet, celebrate and volunteer, and for visitors to explore this beautiful and biodiverse area owned by Seaford Town Council and managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust. The project will focus on community outreach including a schools programme, creating the chance to introduce a new generation to the nature, culture and heritage of this beautiful stretch of coast, whilst learning more about protecting it.
So what’s happening?
Five days of events, free to the public and open to everyone, will centre on South Hill Barn at Seaford Head, in view of the most iconic coastal panorama in the country, the magnificent Seven Sisters.
- Explore the coastal path with a number of guided walks
- Learn about local flora and fauna, chalk, fossils, geology, history, folklore and the impact of climate change on this special location
- Enjoy workshops, performances, arts activities, and debates
- View six specially commissioned art installations on the cliffs
A series of free, bookable guided walks will entertain and inform visitors about the unique flora and fauna, chalk, geology, history, biodiversity and folklore of the area. Wandering performers, dressed as characters from a bygone era including smugglers, soldiers, coastguards and Iron Age fort dwellers, will allow visitors a ghostly glimpse into the past.
A unique opportunity for everyone to visit this world-renowned Sussex site
Walk the Chalk will bring the area alive to people who would normally struggle to access the Coast Path, using electric vehicles and all terrain mobility scooters to enable them to experience the beauty and majesty of this special place. The organisers are working closely with Sussex Community Development Association (SCDA) to target and include vulnerable groups and those in need of support.
Art and Creativity at the heart of Walk the Chalk
Six artists from across Sussex have created a series of thought-provoking and site-specific installations around the main walk route. These artworks interpret and reflect on the landscape, the natural world and our place within it. They include ‘Hearts and Minds’ by Michelle Dufaur, four huge representations of short-snouted seahorses as a portal to the King Charles III England Coast Path. Visitors will be able to interact with and learn more about each installation during their guided walks.
At the Seven Sisters Visitors Centre and Exceat, there will be further special events devised and hosted by innovative local creatives. Children can get involved by learning about local wildlife in a series of workshops created by Seaford Contemporary Illustrators & Printmakers (SCIP) and culminating in a Children’s Parade at Seaford Head on Saturday 23rd September. They will be joined by two local folklorists and storytellers for what promises to be a memorable and magical evening.
South Hill Barn will host the fantastic Living Coast Undersea VR Experience throughout the five days. This free, immersive virtual reality experience enables visitors to dive into Seaford Bay (without getting wet!) and discover the astonishing and unique marine wildlife of the area in three dimensions.
For those who love cryptic clues, there is a brain-teasing Treasure Hunt to take part in. For the person with the best answers, there is a unique prize available, a stunning silver necklace featuring a chalk coccolithophore created by local jeweller Julian Warrender for Walk the Chalk. To pick up your map and clues, please visit Lewes or Seaford Tourist Information Centre, or www.walkthechalk.org
With live music from a ukulele band, a community orchestra, and Sussex folk-music legends The Copper Family, this exciting jam-packed Walk the Chalk celebration week really does offer something for everything.
Please book the guided walks in advance to secure your place: visit www.walkthechalk.org
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