Planning your Downs Link walk

Published 5 March 2014. Last updated 13 October 2023

Downs Link waymark

Ever wanted to walk between the North and South Downs? Perhaps you’re someone who wants to start walking at Farnham and end walking at Eastbourne. Or maybe you’re just someone who is after a short walking challenge.

Starting near Guildford in Surrey, the Downs Link heads down to the town of Shoreham-by-Sea, over a distance of 37 miles. With a close proximity to London, it’s of an ideal size to do in a long, relaxing weekend.

In this guide

  1. What is the walk like?
  2. The Route
  3. Planning an itinerary
  4. Extending your walk
  5. Accommodation
  6. Getting to/from the Downs Link
  7. Guide books and maps
  8. And finally, and any questions

What is the walk like?

Under a bridge on Downs Link

The Downs Link mostly follows old railway lines, which means that generally the going is flat and easy going. As you’d expect, this means the route is relatively flat and easy going.

For much of the trail, you’ll be walking on tree-lined embankments and cuttings, surrounded by trees and nature. As you get closer to Shoreham-by-Sea, the trees begin to thin out and there are lovely views of the South Downs to be admired. If that wasn’t enough, you’ll find various railway memorabilia as you travel, leading you to sit back and reflect on the steam trains that once headed down the footpath you’re following.

Navigation is easy, and as the route is a bridleway, conditions are generally good. It’s an ideal walk to do at any time of the year. The route’s name comes from the fact that it “links” the North Downs Way with the South Downs Way.

Want to know more? Read about my walk.

The Route

You can see the route of the Downs Link using the map above. Using the controls you can scroll around, zoom in and explore the route. Note that this map is a guide only, and should not be used for navigation.

You can also download the GPX file of the route.

Planning an itinerary

Wooden bird near Shoreham-by-Sea

The Downs Link can be walked in either two longer days, or three shorter ones. Both options have itineraries shown below. Unless otherwise stated, the locations listed below have accommodation, a pub and shop, as well as being served by local bus services.

All distances are approximate. Locations with a railway station are shown with a 🚂.

2 Day Itinerary
  Miles Km
1 St Martha’s Hill1 🚂 Christ’s Hospital2 🚂
or Southwater
or 20½
or 33
2 Christ’s Hospital2 🚂
or Southwater
Shoreham-by-Sea 🚂 18
or 16
or 26
3 Day Itinerary
1St Martha’s Hill1 🚂Rudgwick1321
2RudgwickPartridge Green
or Henfield
or 14½
or 23½
3Partridge Green
or Henfield
Shoreham-by-Sea 🚂11
or 9
or 14


  1. Nearest station and facilities for St Martha’s Hill is at Chilworth.
  2. No facilities at Christ’s Hospital. For accommodation, pubs and shops, take the train or bus north to Horsham.

Extending your walk

Downs Link Visitor Centre at West Grinstead

As the Downs Link connects with both the North Downs Way and the South Downs Way, there are plenty of options for extending the trail. The northern end starts on the North Downs Way at St Martha’s Hill, a few miles to the east of Guildford. The South Downs Way is crossed at the hamlet of Boltophs, a short way south of the three villages of Steyning, Upper Beeding and Bramber.

In both cases you can head east or west. See ‘Planning a Trip on the North Dows Way’ and ‘Planning a Trip on the South Downs Way’ for more information.

Finding and booking accommodation

Train shaped playgtound

There is no single accommodation guide for the Downs Link, and no official tourist board website for West Sussex, which most of the route is in (well, unless you know different – we couldn’t find it anywhere.)

Accommodation details for key locations are shown below:

  • Guildford and surrounding areas – wide range of accommodation available. Local tourist information website Visit Surrey contains a list.
  • Rudgwick – the village has one B&B, called The Coach House.  Alternative accomodation can be found at the Mucky Duck Inn at Tisman’s Common, or Field Farm B&B at Ellen Green. Both are about a mile from Rudgwick village. Alternatively bus services run to Guildford and Horsham.
  • Christ’s Hospital – no accommodation here. Nearest facilities at Southwater or Horsham.
  • Southwater – accommodation can be found at Thornhill B&B on the edge of the village. Alternatively, Horsham is a short way away.
  • Horsham – the town of Horsham has several options, however there is no single tourist website so you’ll need to search online to find them.
  • Partridge Green – no B&B in the village itself, however you can continue on to Henfield, or take local bus services to Horsham or Shoreham-by-Sea.
  • Henfield – accommodation available at No. 1 The Laurels and the The George Hotel. Alternatively, try Partridge Green, or take local bus services to Horsham or Shoreham-by-Sea.
  • Shoreham-by-Sea – again, several options in the area, however you will need to search online to find them.

You may also find alternative accommodation in neighbouring villages.

Accommodation Booking Services and Baggage Transfer

As far as we know, no companies provide an accommodation booking service for the Clarendon Way. Nor are we aware of any companies that provide baggage transfer.

Hostels and Bunkbarns

There are no convenient hostels or bunkbarns on the Downs Link. The only hostel near the route is YHA Truleigh Hill which is two miles from the hamlet of Boltophs, near Upper Beeding/Steyning/Bramber. It can be found by following the South Downs Way east. However as it is close to the end of the trail, it is only of limited use.


There are also no convenient campsites on the Downs Link route, although wild camping may be possible at several locations along the way – subject to landowner permission.

Distance sign at West Grinstead

The northern end of Downs Link is on top of St Martha’s Hill. The nearest train station is Chilworth, on the North Downs line. The easiest way to get from Chilworth station is to follow the Downs Link, although this does mean you will be walking the section between Chilworth and St Martha’s Hill twice. Chilworth is served by trains from Reading, Redhill and Guildford. Alternatively you can walk to St Martha’s Hill from Guildford station. This is approximately 3½ miles. From the town centre, follow the River Wey before joining the North Downs Way to St Martha’s Hill. Guildford is on the South West mainline with regular services from London Waterloo and the south west.

At the southern end, the Downs Link finishes at Shoreham-by-Sea which has train services to London Victoria, Brighton, Southampton and Portsmouth. There are also limited trains running to Cardiff.

Mid-way, the Downs Link passes near Christ’s Hospital Station, served by trains to London Victoria, East Croydon, and Bognor Regis.

Several villages en-route are served by bus services, connecting to larger towns with railway stations, such as Guildford, Horsham and Shoreham-by-Sea. Services can be infrequent, especially on Sundays. West Sussex County Council publish a bus map for the county (PDF) showing services and how they interact with the Downs Link. Note that many services do not run on Sundays.

Guide books and maps

West Grinstead station

There is no formal guide book for the Downs Link, however West Sussex County Council do publish a route guide which is available on their Downs Link page.

The route is split over the following Ordnance Survey Maps:

  • Landranger (1:50,000): 186, 187, 198
  • Explorer (1:25,000): 122, 134, 145

And finally, and any questions

Bench shaped like a train, near Shoreham-by-Sea

As you head down the Downs Link, it’s almost impossible not to wonder what it would all be like now if the trains still ran. Although the answer is that you probably wouldn’t be walking there in the first place! As you wander round the old stations, it’s hard not to get too immersed in it all.

Yes, the Downs Link is there waiting for you to walk it. And if you have any questions about doing so, please feel free to ask in the comments box below.

We update our planning guides on a regular basis, and welcome reports of errors, clarifications and additions. If you have any, please email us using our contact form.


Matt Kennedy

21 September 2014 at 6:08 pm

I am planning to walk from Shoreham by Sea to St Marthas Hill and plan to camp at Sumners Pond which is near Chrsit Hospital I have stayed there before and its a very nice spot with good facilities, it is aimed at caravans and fishing but accepts small tents as well

Has a good restuarant and bar as well as washing facilities


31 December 2015 at 5:31 pm

Thanks for this guide! You say that navigation is easy, but is it well enough marked by signs that it can be walked without a map? Thanks!

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

1 January 2016 at 7:57 pm

I walked it with a map, but rarely used it. The map is useful just as a backup.


30 May 2016 at 9:58 pm

I really want to do this and camp out, but are you aloud to just pitch up along the link?

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

1 June 2016 at 10:18 pm

Matt – the law in England and Wales does not offer the right to wild camp like that. You could pitch up, however if the landowner requests you to move, you must do so.

Pamela Ashby

4 October 2016 at 10:01 am

To all who have walked the Downs Link or intend to walk it, please keep up to date with the development plans for Dunsfold (Waverley Borough Council) Part of the plans will involve change to the use of the Downs Link from Cranleigh to Shalford. This will remove the opportunity to walk this stretch.


5 October 2016 at 10:04 am

Pamela, do you have a reliable link for information on that? Is this for the bus line that they want to establish on the Downs Link?

Pamela Ashby

5 October 2016 at 1:02 pm

No link, as it depends on planning permission. As soon as I have a reliable link or any news on this I will post. This is the link to Dunsfold Park planning application.

Thanks for your interest

Pamela Ashby

5 October 2016 at 1:05 pm

Sorry, did not answer your question about the bus line. Although we thought it had been ‘dismissed’ as an idea. It has been raised again, a Bus/Tram line.

Paul Jonsson

7 April 2017 at 11:41 pm

Andrew, thank you for taking the trouble to post all of this useful information. I intend to do this walk in 2017. I live nearby in Woking and am often on St Martha’s Hill and have noticed the start of the walk several times. It’s beckoning me, and I’m really looking forward to it!

Paul Jonsson

24 April 2017 at 2:57 am

Got to this walk quicker than expected, and really enjoyed it. In case anyone is wondering if it can be done in a day, I can say yes! It’s a distance I’ve done in a day before (White Rose Walk, Lyke Wake Walk in north east England) and at this time of year (mid April) there is just enough light in the day, 14 hours. I set off at 6.15 and arrived in Shoreham-by-Sea at 8.15pm, just as the light was fading. I had two 10-15 minute stops to air my feet and change socks to prevent blisters – which worked OK. I only had one day to do the walk due to work/ family commitments, but to be honest I enjoy endurance walks. I will try the walk again soon in smaller stages, and enjoy the pub stops etc!

Catherine bradley

20 May 2017 at 1:44 pm

I want to drive to start fo the downs link, leave my car and get the train back to my car when I finish. Is this possible?

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

20 May 2017 at 6:22 pm

Yes it is possible if you can find somewhere to park. If you can’t find anywhere at Chilworth, you may have more joy at Guildford where you can follow the North Downs Way to the start.


13 June 2017 at 5:19 pm

Hello. Myself and my fiance have very recently taken on The Cock Inn pub in Southwater. We are in the heart of the village right next to the Downs Link 😊 and we are more than excited to welcome any fellow walkers to our pub for a nice drink or a meal (or just a break).
We will also be offering accommodation in the near future for anyone wanting to break their activities up in Southwater. As there’s not much accommodation on this route – we thought you’d like to know 😊.


27 August 2017 at 11:23 am

HI, I am a novice walker and managed 9 miles from St Martha’s Hill car park to Cranleigh, Sat 26 Aug. The walk up to the church made for a challenging start. I found a map invaluable especially as some Downs link trail signs had been removed towards the latter part of Tangley Wood where I had a little run around even with the guidance of well wishers. For us new to walking a 4 day itinerary would be useful. Thank you

Daphne Duncalfw

3 September 2017 at 7:19 am

Would it be possible for you to do a 4 or 5 day suggested itinerary please? Many thanks Daphne

Sandra Thomas

7 January 2018 at 3:56 pm

I live near the Downs Link and walked today up to Rudgwick, so just wanted to mention that there is a Caravan Club site along the route at Slinfold and also an excellent Cafe at Rudgwick both abutting the actual route…..the cafe is called The Milk Churn and is signed from the walk

The Caravan place is not signed from the walk but you can see it as you walk along.
Slinfold Caravan Club Site (REF : SLF)
Spring Lane, Slinfold, Horsham, West Sussex, RH13 0RT

Graham Corbett

26 May 2018 at 1:14 pm

I am thinking of camping at the Slinfold campsite and shall bring my bicycle. Is it possible to go on t he Downs link by bike?

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

26 May 2018 at 7:36 pm

Hello Graham – the Downslink is a footpath and bridleway so bikes are allowed.

Tim Webb

22 July 2018 at 5:20 pm

Hello. Do many cyclists use this route at all? If I walk the length, does it get cluttered by bikes?

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

22 July 2018 at 8:11 pm

Hello Tim. The Downs Link is a mixed route for cyclists, walkers and horse riders. When I did it, there were a few cyclists but not massive numbers of them. It’s quite a spacious route.


3 November 2018 at 6:55 pm

Hi, thanks for the guide!
I’m looking at running the whole thing in a couple of weeks but was wondering if there are many places I can fill my water bottles en route, preferably for free?

Also, do you know if there are public showers anywhere near Shoreham so I don’t stink on the journey back?

Thanks in advance!

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

4 November 2018 at 11:55 am

Hi Samba – there are various shops and pubs not far from the trail at various stages, where you may be able to get water. No idea about showers I’m afraid.

Sue Loud

27 November 2018 at 8:33 am

Hi, this guide is fab! Any horse riders on herd that have completed the route? Would love to hear about it – good or bad? Thankyou.

Dave Grainger

16 December 2018 at 11:15 am

There is a six stage route on this website

Phil Beck

3 March 2019 at 11:26 am

I am doing the downs link in 4 stages I have completed 3 stages and intend to do the last stage this weekend, the 1st stage was from shoreham to henfield there is a pub on the route called the cat and canary(aprox 14-15k ) the 2nd stage from henfield to christ hospital (14-15k) there is a cafe on the route at partridge green also at southwater (after 10k )the 3rd stage I done was from christ hospital to cranleigh aprox 14-15k there is a sports centre 200m of the route where you can have a snack and drink, last stage from craleigh to newlines corner aprox( 15-16 k ) where there is a cafe.

Jane Kies

6 June 2019 at 10:01 am


How safe is it for a woman to cycle alone on the Down’s link from Cranleigh to Guildford? I do not live in the UK so don’t have any sense of this.

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

6 June 2019 at 11:51 am

Hello Jane – I can’t imagine you will have any problems cycling the Downs Link. There’s a relevant article on this subject elsewhere on this site called Is it safe to walk alone? (The answer is yes!). It’s about walking, but I believe holds true for cycling as well.


6 June 2019 at 11:52 am

Jane, I’ve walked the Downs Link twice as a solo woman, and I felt perfectly safe. It’s a fairly well transited trail, but even in the more remote areas I felt safe. I do a lot of solo walking in the UK and don’t think twice about heading out on my own. Obviously, practice common sense.

roger bowles

6 June 2019 at 10:40 pm

I have completed most of the route now I tend to parkup and do the route in both directions ie Shoreham to Bramber and back park and pay at ropetackle, then Bramber to Henfield and back free parking at Bramber castle, Partridge green to Henfield return free parking in partridge green max 2 hours cycling the downs link signs seem to be a bit hit and miss when heading north from Bramley station theres a pole resting against the bridge then a post and the end of a close but could not see where to go from there but we had followed the proper old railway route upto the canal/ river near Shalford

Honor Young

25 June 2019 at 7:39 am

We have a bed and breakfast next to the old railway bridge in Southwater called Rose cottage can I be included on your list thankyou

Ricky Horscraft

8 July 2019 at 7:59 am

Very useful information. Myself and a friend have done Shoreham to Henfield recently and will be walking Henfield to Christ’s Hospital (or possibly Slinfold) soon. The remainder to St Martha’s Hill we may do with an overnight stay in Cranleigh due to the possible difficulty of getting to that bit by public transport early enough to make it feasible. I’ve just noticed Arriva do a bus between Horsham and Cranleigh, though.


6 August 2019 at 3:15 pm

You can’t camp at Slinfold, just caravans and Motorhome’s.


25 June 2020 at 8:22 am

Hi, we walked st Martha’s to Christ’s hospital (18 miles) last week and found the walk quite monotonous dur to the heavy foliage!!! So question for experienced walkers, is the second half Christ’s hospital to Shoreham more scenic? Thx in advance for your input.


3 August 2020 at 6:59 pm

Yes Alison, I cycled the whole route today. Between Christ’s Hospital and Partridge Green the scenery is variable but it then opens out considerably, particularly as you encounter the River Adur flood plain.
Thank you, Sandra, for recommending the Milk Churn cafe at Rudgwick- that was fab! Also, Stan’s Bike Shack at Partridge Green was a good refuelling stop – right on the Link – then I finished at Shoreham Airfield for an excellent lunch.


3 August 2020 at 7:25 pm

Regarding Sue’s question about riding this route on horseback, my wife rode from St Martha’s Hill to Southwater in 1995. She remembers it being quite good underfoot. However, trying the same ride about10 years ago, she was very disappointed to find the route had apparently been resurfaced and was very hard. I would have the same opinion today. I’m glad I was on a bicycle and not a horse. Unless you want to walk most of the way, I would say that the route is unsuitable for a long distance horse ride now. There were also numerous dogs, although they were all well behaved.


5 August 2020 at 4:51 pm

I am keen to understand how long in miles it is from Broadbridge Heath to shoreham as I cycled this today but didn’t have a phone with me so no idea on distance. Any help would be appreciated


13 August 2020 at 7:11 am

Hi can you access the walk from barns green?

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

13 August 2020 at 8:35 am

Hello Jill. Barns Green is a mile or so away from the Downs Link. The OS Map shows a footpath alongside the railway line that connects up with the Downs Link.

Keith Simpson

18 October 2020 at 1:11 pm

I ran the route yesterday, but couldn’t find the actual end of it (in Shoreham) because of the waterfront development. Is there an actual specific end marker?

Andrew Bowden (Rambling Man editor)

19 October 2020 at 9:06 am

Hello Keith – the end wasn’t particularly well marked but is next to Old Shoreham Bridge. There used to be a set of (fake) buffer stops that kind of marked the end, as well. I presume they’re still there.


18 April 2021 at 10:19 pm

Can heartily recommend the Firebird Brewery behind Th Milk Churn cafe if you fancy a fresh pint of craft beer. Open from lunchtime til around 5pm, I believe.


7 August 2021 at 8:53 am

Is it safe to cycle from southwater to shoreham or the other way alone? As a female with lots of kidnaps recently i worry a lot. Is it well used. Id be a little worried if im alone the whole time.

Anne jackson

31 October 2021 at 8:38 am

How far is it to walk from Southwater to Broadbridge Heath

Martin Choularton

7 December 2021 at 4:41 pm

I am looking to walk this over two days and want to obviously stop overnight somewhere in the middle (happy to book for two nights and spend an extra day if need be), i will have a small dog and want either Sheperds hut, Cabin or B&B within a mile or so of route….any ideas please

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