The Downs Link is a long distance route for walkers, horse riders and cyclists. The route is mostly off-road following Public Rights of Way along two disused railway lines and crosses the Surrey Hills, the Low Weald, the South Downs and the Coastal Plain. Sections of the route uses farm tracks or roads including road crossings.
Since the trains departed in the 1960s the embankments and cuttings have become a green corridor for wildlife and people. The Downs Link connects with other long-distance routes, such as the North Downs Way, South Downs Way, Wey South Path, Greensand Way, Sussex Border Path and National Cycle Network routes 2 and 22.
A new section of the Downs Link is now open around Christ’s Hospital and can be viewed in the attached map below.
The Downs Link - Connecting communities through walking, cycling and riding project
This project has helped improve the Downs Link by:
- upgrading the surface to improve access all year round from Rudgwick to Slinfold, Copsale to Partridge Green and Henfield car park
- funding the installation of 10 interpretation boards, 11 wooden mile marker posts and 4 heritage waymarkers.
The project has been part funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Think, Share, Be Aware
To ensure everyone enjoys the Downs Link and the surrounding countryside, please Think of other users, Share rights of way with others and Be Aware of what's around you. This includes:
- Respecting other users and being courteous.
- Cyclists: Please slow down and sound your bell or call out to alert others. Give way to walkers, horse riders and wheelchair users.
- Dogs are welcome. Please keep them under effective control and in sight. Always clear up after them. Bag it and Bin it – any public bin will do.
- Be aware parts of the Downs Link pass through working farmland.
- Take all litter home with you.
When visiting the countryside and using Public Rights of Way, please be respectful of the needs of others in the countryside and always follow the Countryside Code.
Route information and closures
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) - TQ2098 0547
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.
There are currently no closures along the route.
The route is accessible at various locations, including at:
- West Grinstead
All the Downs Link is surfaced. Some sections use farm tracks or the road network.
Please keep an eye on our Twitter feed and on-site signage which we will update as any works progress.
At West Grinstead Old Station a railway carriage has a new life as an information centre run by our volunteers. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 the railway carriage is closed until further notice. The remainder of the site remains open. To find West Grinstead Old Station, launch our iMap, select 'British National Grid' from the search menu and enter TQ183225 in the search box.
Nature and landscape
The route connects a variety of habitats, passing banks of wildflowers, trees, hedges, woodlands, rivers, ponds and streams.
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
Are you planning an event, including a charity fund-raiser, on the Downs Link?
Contact us to ensure it is managed safely and avoids clashing with other arrangements. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.