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The Downs Link, Sussex

Downs Link

The Downs Link is a 59 km (36.7 miles) footpath and bridleway that links the North Downs Way with the  South Downs Way near Steyning. It is open to walkers, runners, cyclists, and horse riders and is a wonderful way to explore Sussex off-road. It’s fairly flat and straight, and surfaced all the way, although the surface is uneven and rough in places. But it’s a good all-weather route for winter explorers.

Downs Link

The Downs Link was opened in 1984 and follows two dismantled railway lines. It starts at St Martha’s Hill near Guildford and finishes in Shoreham by Sea. Along the way, it passes near or through Cranleigh, Rudgwick, Slinfold, Christ’s Hospital, Southwater, West Grinstead, Partridge Green, Henfield, Bramber, and Steyning. It also crosses the Surrey Hills, the Low Weald, the South Downs, and the Coastal Plain meaning you pass through a diverse landscape.

Downs Link

Things to see on the Downs Link

As an old railway line, you will pass abandoned railway stations and the platforms and carriages at Christ’s Hospital and West Grinstead are an evocative reminder of another time. You’ll also pass under or through plenty of tunnels and bridges.

Downs Link

At about 28 km from the start point in Surrey, you’ll pass the impressive architecture of Christ’s Hospital – a unique Sussex school. Head on to Henfield where they have an interesting museum and the Sussex Prairie Garden. Then it’s on to historic Steyning and Bramber where you can explore the ruins of a Norman castle and the Medieval past of St Mary’s House and Gardens. Finally, the landscape opens up as you follow the River Adur across the Coastal plains to Shoreham. Linger in Shoreham for a while and enjoy the market, the museum and a touch of coastal life.

St. Mary's Bramber

Of course, in addition to all these points of interest, there is wildlife to enjoy. In the spring, you’ll see bluebells and wild garlic and by mid to late summer, you’ll see crab apples, blackberries, and sloes, along with plenty of butterflies and birds.

Downs Link

Places to eat on the Downs Link

The good news is that there are plenty of pit stops along the way. Refuel at The Milk Churn at Rudgwick, the Red Lyon in Slinfold, Bax Castle near Southwater, or The Cabin near Henfield.

The Cat Henfield West Sussex

Places to stay and a 3-day itinerary

Some people cycle the Downs Link in a day but if yours is a more leisurely journey, break your travels. For day 1 finish your day with a stay at the Old Vicarage Airbnb in Rudgwick (about 20km) or at Random Hall Hotel at Slinfold (25 km). Finish day 2 at the Knepp Estate at West Grinstead (about 38 km) and enjoy one of their Wildland Safaris or a night of glamping in a shepherd’s hut, yurt, or treehouse.

Knepp Castle and Estate

You can find a map of the route and other information here: Downs Link.  The Downs Link also connects other Sussex long-distance routes, including the South Downs Way, Wey South Path, Greensand Way, Sussex Border Path and National Cycle Network routes 2 and 22.

If you’ve enjoyed this post about the Downs Link, you may also like:

Long Distance Sussex Walks and Sussex Trails

Discover the South Downs

Cycle Centurion Way, West Sussex


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