Downs Link : Guildford to Shoreham by Sea

2 disused railway lines and 2 riverside paths - level - and almost entirely traffic free

Length 36.6 miles / 59 km
Toughness 3 / 10 - easy and very shallow gradients except a hill over a closed tunnel, and a stony trackbed near Bramber
Off Road 95% off road. Riverside tow path at the start, then a former trackbed with a good surface. Some small stetches of road where the line has been built over, and a longer one in the middle near Christ's Hospital. More trackbed, detours near Steyning. Then a riverside cycle path which uses the trackbed.
Maps OS Explorers 145 (Guildford), OL34 (Horsham), OL11 (Brighton)

Follow a canal side path (or an official NCN cycle route) south from Guildford (train station) to the start of the Downs Link about 2 miles. Then follow the trackbed of a former railway south via Christs Hospital (train station) to the sea at Shoreham-by-Sea (train station) along 2 disused railways lines and a riverside cycle path.

The route is almost entirely off-road along good hard surface tracks, although there are a couple of short road sections where the former route has been built over. Towards the end, there is a short section where the surface is stoney. Follow the route on a map before you start, and note the short off-road sections

GPS route updated July'20


It is possible to start closer to London, by following the Thames Path to Weybridge (train station) then the Wey Navigation (a canal towpath) to Guildford - the start of the Downs Link.

An alternative (and hilly!) start is to follow the North Downs Way to St Martha's Hill (a picturesque viewpoint with a church), then follow the Downs South Link from there. A '2 sides of a triangle', this adds a few miles, and a steep ascent, and vey steep descent. Worth it though

You can continue along pleasent sea front cycle paths east to Brighton, or west to Worthing


From Guildford Station, follow the River Wey tow path south for 2 miles.

About 1/2 a mile past a railway bridge, cross a road bridge to follow the east bank of the canal. Continue, then south at the next road bridge, crossing over the Wey river to the start of the disused railway line.

Follow it - there is a short diversion at Cranleigh (houses on the line!) and a slightly longer one at Rudgwick (bypassing a closed tunnel)

At Christs Hospital (train station) there is a longer diversion where the 2 closed lines are split by a still used line. Either follow the road diversion (about 1 mile along narrow lanes with occasional fast cars - not really good for children), or continue into Christs Hospital village, and follow the pavement south to rejoin the route

The next short diversion is at Partridge Green (more houses on the line), and again at Henfield (ditto).

The railway line fades away just short of Bramber, but there is a waymarked route via fields then quiet residential streets (safe for children) to rejoin it south of the town for a final short stretch before it disappears for good. Here a handy cycle path along the River Adur starts, and takes you all the way to Shoreham-by-Sea

A road bike is OK but a moutain bike is better for the short stoney strech of path near the end.

You'll need a map for several short diversions aroud bits of built-on trackbed


Trains to Guildford go from Waterloo every 15 mins and take 30 mins.

Trains from London Victoria to Shoreham-by-Sea are every 30 mins, and take just over an hour. From London, buy a ticket to Chichester which covers both out and back journeys.

By car, park a few miles south of Guildford. For trains back to Guildford, change at Gatwick Airport - about 90 mins

Help Us!

After the walk, we would love to get your feedback

You can upload photos to the SWC Group on Flickr (upload your photos) and videos to Youtube. This walk's tags are:

By Train

Out (not a train station)

Back (not a train station)

By Car

Start GU1 4UT Map Directions Return to the start:

Finish BN43 5WX Map Directions Travel to the start:


National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234



Copyright © Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only.