At the start of the Downs Link

Published 26 July 2020

This simple stone pillar marks the start of the Downs Link

There are many a walking trails in this country that follow the route of old railway lines. But not many of them start, rather randomly, at the top of a hill nowhere near the old railway.

One that does is the Downs Link, a 37 mile walking trail that connects the North Downs Way with the South Downs Way for the good reason of “why wouldn’t you want to do that?”

It all starts at St Martha’s Hill, near a church that sits on the hill, and all a few miles away from the bustling metropolis of Guildford. The obvious way to get to the Downs Link is to follow the North Downs Way from Guildford. You’ll find yourself walking through the woods that top the hillside (well, the bits of the hillside that don’t house the church). And after a bit, there’s a footpath to the side. It heads downhill. And there’s a simple stone structure that looks a bit like a miniature trig point. On the top is a circular metal plaque. The Downs Link has begun.

It takes a couple of miles before you reach the old railway line proper. That means the beginning of the Downs Link is completely unrepresentative of the rest of the trail. But then the old railway line doesn’t actually meet up with the North Downs Way at all. And if they had started it somewhere else, a different name and a different unique selling point would have needed. Anyway, a walk in the woods is quite nice really.

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