The route follows two disused railway lines and crosses the Surrey Hills, the Low Weald, the South Downs and the Coastal Plain. Since the trains departed in the 1960s the embankments and cuttings have become a green corridor for wildlife and people. The route connects a variety of habitats, passing banks of wildflowers, trees, hedges, woodlands, rivers, ponds and streams.
Start/finish points and grid references
- St Martha's Hill (start) - TQ0287 4831
- West Grinstead Old Station (mid-point) - TQ1838 2256
- Shoreham-by-Sea (finish) - TQ2112 0523
Using the grid references stated above, 'copy and paste' or manually enter them into the Grid Reference Finder search box to see the location on a map.
The path is accessible at various points via these locations:
Shoreham-by-Sea, Bramber, Steyning, West Grinstead, Southwater and Rudgwick.
All of the Downs Link is surfaced and largely follows the route of the disused railway line from Guildford to Shoreham-by-sea. Some sections are on the road network.
At West Grinstead Old Station a railway carriage has a new life as an information centre run by our volunteers, who aim to open it most Sundays (generally 10.00am-4.00pm). To find West Grinstead Old Station, launch our iMap, select 'British National Grid' from the search menu and enter TQ183225 in the search box.
Our six-stage route guide provides details of walks or rides of 4-7 miles (6-11km) accessible by public transport or car and further information about refreshments and local facilities. The trail can be completed in stages, as a weekend walk or a full-day's ride, or there is an off-road route from Guildford Station, for walkers and cyclists only, that joins the Downs Link at Bramley.
Nature and landscape
Butterflies, such as Fritillaries and Admirals, can be seen fluttering in the sunny, sheltered woodland glades, and you can see Kingfishers fishing from the railway bridges. Bats can be seen foraging and nightingales heard singing during the summer evenings. Glow worms are an exciting find on warm summer nights.
The landscape is varied as the trail crosses the different layers of rock and soil that lie between the North and South Downs. The acid sandy soils of the greensand ridge at St Martha’s Hill give way to the Low Weald clays at the county border, then in places there are beds of hard sandstone known as ‘Horsham Slab’, much used for roofing in days gone by.
Between Henfield and Steyning, the route enters the River Adur flood plain. The river cuts through the South Downs. Until the 14th Century, the estuary covered a much wider area where there are now arable fields and grassland, surrounded by ‘rifes’ or drainage ditches.
Organising an event
Organising a sponsored event on the Downs Link?
Avoid clashing with other events by emailing us: firstname.lastname@example.org