with tips for cycling & hiking
This is a 43 mile cycle route starting just south of Guildford to Shoreham on the coast in Sussex, the vast majority of it following old railway lines.
We stayed at the Sumner Ponds site in Barns Green village, because it was virtually mid way on the Downs Link.
Also it is located at the break point in the continuous running of the trail.
This a pleasant greenfield site with one of its main attractions the fishing lakes. The pitches around these appear to be quite correctly reserved for anglers.
We stayed on one of the other field's, which had a nice open feel to it and as it was low season, was extremely tranquil.i.e there were very few kids around.
To pick up the track you need to go through the village and turn right, down Two Mile Ash Lane, continue for about 2 miles until you come to the 15th century pub, the Bax Castle (this will be much needed on the way back) and the start of the track.
The first stop after a mile or so is Southwater Country Park, which is worth a brief visit.
Then onto West Grinstead station, where there was for all railway buffs, a mini museum, run by volunteers, in an old railway carriage; be careful they could keep you there all day.
As you move towards Henfield the route crosses open countryside with panoramic vistas.
Continue to the Cat and Canary Pub and follow the track signs towards Steyning & Bramber, both will provide pubs but for shops etc you need to go to Steyning.
We called into Bramber for a bar of chocolate, we missed out on that but discovered the ruins of Bramber Castle, which was built by William de Broese in 1070.
The castle grounds are a great picnic spot and offer panoramic views over the river Adur and you will have to stretch your imagination, to believe that in Norman times, the sea actually came up to the castle.
The Gatehouse Tower is all that remains of the castle.
Continue onto Botolphs, cross the bridge and follow the river all the way to Shoreham, where there will be ample opportunities to obtain refreshments. There is also a good bike shop in town.
What a big bird! Old Shoreham Tollbridge in the background,which apparently,when it closed in 1970,was the last public tollroad.
You have to pick up the track in a different position.
You again go down to the village but continue straight on along the main road, for about 2 miles, down Weston Hill and opposite Weston Farm at the bottom, turn right to pick up the trail. It is signposte.
Take care on the main road, particularly when you turn right at the bottom of the hill, as the main road bends to the left. It is not a particularly busy road but it is a main road, and you do want to get to the track in one piece.
When you travel northward, the track distinctly resembles a railway line, more so than the southern section which has a much more open appearance. It is more tree lined with distinctive cuttings and embankments.
I believe is the only campsite directly on the trail, occupying the site of the old station.
It is a Caravan Club own facilities site and is impecably maintained, by yolunteers from the club.
It is delightful and nearly worth joining the club for.
You continue into woods and come off track before you reach Baynards station (the only restored station on the route),
I think because there may have been a tunnel, that you can no longer navigate.
This was one of my favourite sections as it involved some climbs and steep descents, which were good fun, Julia was not so keen.
The waiting room at Baynards station, which is now privately owned.
The station was built for Lord Thurlow, who was the landowner of Baynards Park. As the line crossed his land he asked for his own private station in return.
This was quite common then, also with the canals, when they crossed private land, sometimes you had very ornate bridges built.
The Thurlow Arms has its own brewery and is an ideal refreshment stop or alternatively the allegedly largest village Cranleigh offers refreshment opportunities.(Good picnic spots in the vicinity)
We finished our ride at the village of Bramley where refreshments are available.