‘I’m surprised more migrants haven’t died in the Channel’: my view from England’s white cliffs

On one day in February, a record number of people in tiny boats made the trip. What kind of welcome can they expect?

I live on the edge of England. You can’t go any further south without falling into the sea, which is a long way down from the top of the high cliffs near my home. The walk over the backs of Beachy Head and the Seven Sisters is often named as one of the most beautiful in the country, with rolling downland that ends suddenly in bright, white chalk falls and a seascape horizon so wide you can see the Earth curve.

For the last couple of years I have been privileged to be writer in residence at the Belle Tout lighthouse, which sits alone on one of these hills, almost on the edge of a 120m drop. This Georgian tower no longer shines a light, but it has been restored and transformed into a lovely place for bed and breakfast.

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‘I’m surprised more migrants haven’t died in the Channel’: my view from England’s white cliffs