Spend a night in a lighthouse was one of our longstanding dreams, that we finally realized to celebrate our 5th anniversary. Although in the UK there is plenty of choice when it comes to lighthouses, we did not have a moment of hesitation: the trip we did last year to the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head had completely hooked us.
The proximity to London, the good transport connection, the beauty of the South Downs National Park and the charm of the Belle Tout B&B left us with no doubts.
We wanted to go stargazing, we wanted to experience the excitement of being alone between the sky and the sea, surrounded only by shrubs, small animals and majestic cliffs.
Beachy Head has two lighthouses, both now decommissioned: one painted in white and red stripes built directly into the sea and another (the Belle Tout) built on top of the cliffs and kept active just the time to realize that the mist made it invisible from the sea.
In the last decades, after being bombed, rebuilt and moved several meters away from the cliffs to prevent it from crumbling into the sea for the chalk erosion, the Belle Tout has become an amazing B&B.
Although not particularly attractive from the outside, the interior of the Belle Tout lighthouse is enchanting, with only 6 rooms facing the hills or the sea. In every common room there are binoculars and telescopes to scan the horizon and search the sky.
Because of its proximity to London, this stretch of coast has always been the favourite to smugglers and spies, who often tried to moor overnight to deliver illegal goods, collect money or meet informants.
However, the rough sea and untrained seafarers (before the naval industry was regulated) often caused shipwrecks. A lighthouse was then built alongside the coastguards cottages to warn the seamen about the cliffs.
On the top floor of the Belle Tout there is “The Lantern Room”, the room from which the lighthouse would emit intermittent beams of light to signal the coast: today it is a cozy circular lounge room with no walls. Only big windows separate the inside from the outside: constantly full of light, with its 360 degrees view on the landscape around, it makes you fill part of the nature that completely surrounds you.
Staying in the Lantern Room at sunset, with the sun reverberating on the waves, sipping a glass of good wine is a really unique experience.
Unique is also the night. When everyone goes home and the coast is swallowed by darkness, Belle Tout’s guests have the impression to be masters of that little universe. We went out to take pictures of the stars with a tripod, a torch, a camera and a blanket to protect ourselves from the wind, that here is normally so strong that trees grow oblique. Two of the most romantic hours of our lives, enchanted by the Milky Way and literally bombarded by falling stars.
BELLE TOUT B&B
HOW TO GET THERE
Southern Trains from London Victoria to Eastbourne (1h30) and then Eastbourne Sightseeing Bus from Eastbourne Pier to “Belle Tout” stop (15min).
If you come by car, there is a small car park on site.
A wonderful breakfast is included in the room rate (a chef is also available to cook for you).
If you have a car, you can then go to the Beachy Head Visitor Centre’s pub or to Eastbourne. As we hadn’t, we had lunch at the Beachy Head pub after an amazing two-hour stroll on the cliffs. For dinner we had the paninis and fruit we bought that same morning in Eastbourn in the Lantern Room.
WHAT TO DO THERE
Click HERE and have a look at our posts about the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head to get some inspiration.
Double room from GBP 170 per night.
IDEAL EXPERIENCE FOR:
those who love the peace and wonders of nature.
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