South Downs

Downs Link

14. 10. 2017

Peter Schrammel




***: from the Channel coast to the Thames Valley along a former rail track through the South Downs and Surrey Hills


Brighton, 29m - Pyecombe, 104m - Henfield, 42m - Horsham, 50m - Cranleigh, 60m - Guildford, 46m - Farnborough, 64m - Wokingham, 71m

Elevation gain





6 1/4h (3/4 + 1/2 + 1 + 3/4 + 3/4 + 1 1/4 + 1 1/4)




+: compressed gravel on the former rail track and one steep section over the closed tunnel near Rudgwick



Visitor frequency 

c: some hikers and more and more cars the closer you get to London


Racebike tyres are not suitable for the rail track.


After I had moved all my stuff to my new flat in Oxford, I went to Brighton to return the keys and ride by bicycle back to Oxford. That was the plan, at least. Returning the keys took longer than expected. So, I only left Brighton towards noon. I followed the usual route over the South Downs via Pyecombe. Then I continued to Henfield where I joined the Downslink cycle path on the former railway track. The cyclepath uses mostly the track, except in some places where houses had been built on it in the meanwhile. I made reasonable progress, but I was not really fast because the track consists mostly of compressed gravel, which is very uncomfortable to ride with my slick tyres. The railway winds around Horsham where it crosses the railway leading to Arundel. The path is really nice, mostly in the woods with trees joining above your head to form a tunnel. After Rudgewick there is an actual tunnel that cannot be passed through. Instead, I had to push the bike up a steep hill and ride down on the other side to Baynards. At Peasmarsh the Downslink railway ends and the cyclepath runs into Guildford. I stopped there for a longer break on the castle hill. At 5pm I continued on the road towards Brookwood where I joined the cyclepath that runs along the Basingstoke Canal. This section is quite beautiful with several locks. At Farnborough North train station I took the wrong way: instead of turning right to follow the cyclepath to Frimley, I continued into Farnborough and further to Hawley. It was becoming clear that I wouldn`t reach Oxford that day by bicycle. So, the next goal was to reach a train station before the night falls. The problem was also that on that day there were replacement buses from Reading to Didcot and these buses wouldn`t take bicycles. The nearest train station to reach Oxford via another route would be High Wycombe, but that was too far away. Another way would be to take the train into London and to Oxford from Marylebone. Anyways, I thought I would reach Wokingham and then see from there. I lost myself a bit in the residential areas around Sandhurst. In the end I used the main road to Wokingham, which was quite dangerous because it was getting seriously dark now. I reached Wokingham at 8pm and took the train to Reading. There I politely asked the bus driver how I could get with my bicycle to Oxford that day. He had pity with me and allowed the bicycle into the trunk. So, I arrived in Oxford at 10.30pm.

Legal Notices