Linking the North Downs Way at St. Martha's Hill in Surrey with the South Down's Way near Steyning, the Downs Link route itself follows the course of two dismantled railway lines - the Cranleigh Line & the Steyning Line - both of which were closed in the 1960's as a result of the Beeching Axe. With the railway lines gone, the embankments & cuttings left a green corridor for wildlife & people to enjoy. The route connects a wide variety of habitats, passing beautiful flowerbanks, through woodlands, next to streams of water & much, much more. It's definitely worth taking the camera out with you!
The scenic route passes through, around & by a number of villages, so a pub is usually not too far away for you to enjoy too! You might even stumble across a cricket match to enjoy as you pass through Southwater, or perhaps pop into Southwater's Country Park which is situated literally on the route.
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.
Other highlights of the route include the West Grinstead Old Station, which is now an Information Centre run by volunteers & housed in an old style railway carriage. It's an ideal place to stop & relax on your trip. Just a little further north of West Grinstead, the route passes by the beautiful Christ's Hospital.
The Downs Link is not a National Trail within the meaning of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, but a trail of regional importance supported by three local authorities - Surrey County Council, West Sussex County Council and Waverley Borough Council.
Please visit the County Council's website to find out further information on the Links plus maps & leaflets to download to accompany your venture onto the trail!