Downs Link

A shared-use path from the North Downs Way at St Martha's Hill, Surrey to Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex.

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A 37 mile (59km) shared route linking the North Downs Way with the South Downs Way.


About

The Downs Link is a shared use route that 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 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.

Revised route

A new section of the Downs Link is now open around Christ’s Hospital and can be viewed in the attached map below. Temporary signage is in place along the route, while works to replace with permanent signage is being completed.


Route closures

Temporary closure

  • Affected route: Public Bridleway No. 3659 (part of) between TQ134300 under the A264 bridge and TQ139296 at Baystone Bridge, where the route meets Public Bridleway 3706.
  • Duration: Closed for two days from 2 September 2020.
  • Reason: To allow for the hedge cutting to be completed.
  • Map: BW3659 (PDF, 389KB)

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, you must follow Government guidelines on accessing green spaces safely.


Route information

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.

Nearest locations

The path is accessible at various points via these locations:

Shoreham-by-Sea, Bramber, Steyning, West Grinstead, Southwater and Rudgwick.

Terrain

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.

Highlights

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.


Route guide

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

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

Organising a sponsored event on the Downs Link?

Avoid clashing with other events by emailing us: countryside@westsussex.gov.uk

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