Distance: 9 km. Elevation: 17 m. Difficulty: Easy to Medium.
This is a stunning West Sussex walk that takes in the Downs Link and River Adur but also manages to feel like it takes you far from the madding crowd. It’s also surely one of the flattest walks in the area! It’s a very easy-to-follow route so you don’t really need a map but if you prefer to have one, then it’s OS Explorer 11. Your start point is the aptly named The Old Railway pub on Upper Station Road in Henfield. If you’re coming to Henfield from the south you turn left off London Road into Church Street which becomes Upper Station Road. You’ll find the pub about half a mile along on the right. There is a small parking area or parking in nearby streets. The pub has a garden and kiosk for refreshments.
Section 1 – the Downs Link
The Downs Link is clearly signed and you are heading north. If you don’t know the Downs Link, it is a 59 km stretch of dismantled railway line that is now a bridlepath and footpath which links the North Downs to Shoreham. It also connects with various other routes on the way including the South Downs Way, Wey South Path, Sussex Border Path, and two National Cycle Network routes. Lined with trees and at this time of year lots of blossom, I expected it to be busy on a sunny, spring Sunday but in fact, we met hardly anyone. After about 1.5 km, you turn left off the Downs Link. It’s the fourth footpath to the left as you walk and you can see the River Adur just ahead of you.
Section 2 – the River Adur
Once on the river path, you follow it for about 5 km and this is a truly idyllic section of this West Sussex walk. Escape from the noise of traffic because all you’ll hear here is nature. There are swans (lots of them), egrets, herons, Moore hens, ducks and more. In the distance ahead of you, is the brow of the South Downs and you see first the distinctive outline of the trees at Chanctonbury Ring, then the towers at Truleigh Hill, and even the glinting cars parked far away at Devil’s Dyke.
For the eagle-eyed, there are glimpses of Lancing College and the chimneys of the Shoreham Quarry. To your right is the river and to your left is a marshy flatland and we met no one along this section of the walk. Just stick to the river path and enjoy a rare opportunity to feel like you are well and truly off the beaten track. That said, if for any reason you need to shorten your walk, there are at least 5 footpaths along this stretch that will take you straight back to the Downs Link. You will also pass posts with the Hidden Henfield markers on them and this is part of a great local initiative designed to help you discover the best of the town.
Section 3 – homeward bound
Eventually, the path and river bend left and you see an old iron railway bridge and the Downs Link ahead. You simply turn left onto the Link and head north. As you approach Henfield, you’ll see enticing signs for local Sussex coffee and cake. The Cabin at Berrett’s Farm offers the perfect finish to your walk with seating, great views, and lots of room for dogs. Once you’re done, follow the Downs Link back to the start.
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