Downs Link

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

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


About

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.

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.


Route closures

Temporary closure of the Downs Link at Southwater

The Downs Link is closed to ensure pedestrian safety during the construction of Phases 1.6 and 3.1 of the Broadacres development. An alternative route is provided. The diversion runs between Worthing Road, Southwater heading south for approximately 1.5km.

The current closure expires on 1 March 2020 or until it is safe to reopen the bridleway. However, this may extend until the development is complete. There is a diversion in place.

Temporary closure of the Downs Link at Rudgwick and West Grinstead

Improvements to the Downs Link surface will take place this autumn 2019 in the following areas:

  • Rudgwick to Slinfold - From the A281 up to bridleway BW1370_3 (1,330m section). Work commences on Monday 4 November 2019 and will take approximately five weeks.
  • Needs Bridge, West Grinstead to B2125, Partridge Green (2,000m section). Work began on Monday 7 October 2019 and will take approximately nine weeks. 
    Update: Current surface improvement works to the Downs Link near Partridge Green have been delayed due to the recent wet weather. Surface improvements works have started between Rudgwick and Slinfold. While our contractors are working on site, the Downs Link will need to be closed. In order to protect the path from damage while it dries out and to enable works to continue as necessary, we have taken the decision to keep the Downs Link closed at evenings and weekends. No alternative routes are available. We apologise for the inconvenience.

Work will start on a further two sections in 2020, details to follow at a later date.

The project is being funded with a £558,000 grant from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development following a successful bid from West Sussex County Council.


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, 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.


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

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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