Downs Link Cycle Route Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
The Downs Link officially starts in Guildford, and runs for 36 mostly traffic-free miles to Shoreham-on-Sea. Most of the route is on disused railway lines, so no steep hills to contend with.
The route shown on the map below starts at Shalford, Surrey, and the reason for that is simple: cycling out of Guildford you will either have to contend yourself with busy roads, or a segment of trail where there are many steps, down which to drag your bike.
Shalford has a train station, but before taking your bike on the train, be sure to read my Bikes On Trains guide first.
Please note that there are a few on-road segments. South of Southwater you’ll encounter the first, with the most unpleasant probably being the third of a mile onlong the B2135, south of Partridge Green. There is a very narrow pavement you may want to choose to cycle on instead.
Surface on the Downs Link
Most of the route is on self-compacting gravel, and is rideable all year round. However, after rain, and especially in winter, you will want mudguards.
In winter there are usually some segments that either floods, or are covered in deep mud.
Practically any kind of bike can be used on the route, but bikes with fatter tyres and mudguards will be better.
There are toilets in Shalford, in Cranleigh (but off-trail), at The Lintot pub in Southwater, at the Southwater Country Park Café (off-trail), at The Old Railway pub in Henfield, and ins Shoreham-by-Sea.
Refreshment stops: ⭐⭐
Points of Interest
For starters, you’ll be cycling to the beach. Also look out for Bramber Castle, a ruined Norman fort.
Routes in Sussex
- Centurion Way traffic-free cycle route
- Downs Link Traffic-free Cycle Route
- Cuckoo Trail Traffic-free Cycle Route
There’s one barrier just north of Southwater, but trailers at least should be able to get through easily, as should trikes.
There are several gates along the route, and people on adaptive bikes, who cannot dismount, will struggle with those.
In places, the trail is quite narrow, and you may find yourself needing to stop when encountering others using it.
Forecast for the Downs Link
What the Downs Link looks like
Getting to the Downs Link
This is a great car-free day out from London. Simply get the train to Shalford, and cycle down to the sea. Other stations along the route are Christ’s Hospital, Horsham and of course Shoreham-by-Sea. Do yourself the favour of first reading my Bikes On Trains guide though.
DayCycle routes are routes can can easily be cycled by most people in a day, or part of a day. Do have a look at all the other DayCycle routes available on WillCycle. Many contain detailed route guides, as well as embedded maps (like the one below) from which you can download the GPX file for the route.