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Ever after seeking innovative solutions, part of the closed tunnel had been used by the local council as a rubbish tip. There’s something about the moody dramatic lighting; the water dripping down the brick walls. British Rail looked in to a few years later, and the Railway Development Society did the same. But if anyone was expecting some greater commemoration, they would be out of luck. From there, the path led to sparse woodland on Rosemary Hill, before heading to the more dense trees of Wonersh Common. “Aye,” she nodded, looking at the platform a little wistfully. That the hamlet got anything can be credited to one Lord Thurlow. Surrounded mostly by trees, the old railway line felt rather gloom in the rain, with only the odd bridge breaking it all up. Beginning of cycle ride along the Downs Link to Shoreham: psburgess: 16/05/2020: NDW Westhumble to Guildford: jedthehumanoid: 24/01/2020: Day 1 walking the North Downs Way: fosal29: 29/04/2019: Boxing Day walk with John & Simon: ornithopod: 26/12/2018 The Milk Churn cafe is still there and also Firebird Brewery for a beverage. The Downs Link follows a disused railway line forming part of the long-distance route linking St Martha's Hill, near Guildford, to near Shoreham on the south coast. Enjoy this site? Not that I was particularly surprised. The route crosses the Surrey Hills and the South Downs through predominantly wood areas with views across adjoining fields, but also includes small meadow areas and wetland features. Turn right on this path and follow the path down the hillside into the Tillingbourne Valley. Paths along old railway lines tend to share similar features. Downs Link - Via St Martha's Hill. Rambling Man earns money from qualifying purchases from Amazon, YHA England and Wales, Waterstones, Booksetc, Foyles, and Google Play, if you follow links from this site. Far more peaceful were the remnants of the old canal along with Cranleigh Waters, a narrow, shallow looking river. I’d been keeping my eye open for a bench – there’d been plenty earlier in the day, but no sooner had I wanted to sit on one and they’d all disappeared. But putting footpaths through them means maintaining the infrastructure to a higher standard, plus lighting to install, health and safety hazards to assess. Unlike its neighbour, Cranleigh had little to commemorate the railway. As you walk along, you can take … In 10m, ignore the wide path on the right and continue for another 50m. At the end of the platforms, where the line one crossed the road, the level crossing gates lay across the former track bed; waiting to be opened once more for a train that would never come. The line only gets two passenger trains an hour in each direction. Again, now a private house, Baynard’s is the only station on the route to have remained pretty much intact. In fact when I planned to walk the Downs Link, I didn’t even realise it went down old railway lines. Recent rain had paid its toll on the footpaths as I slipped around on a path that had become a veritable quagmire at parts. Whether it was the weather or not, I couldn’t tell, but the Downs Link was now deserted. At the top, I was rewarded with the sight of St Martha's Church (picture 25), and the magnificent views of the Surrey countryside to the south (picture 26). At the end, turn left on a broad track. As far as Cranleigh was concerned, the railway was gone and would never be back. Which is why I started walking Downs Link, panting for breath, cursing the fact that I was rather out of shape on the hill climbing front. Please consider supporting what I do by buying me a coffee (n.b. St Martha on the Hill and the Silent Pool A Pilgrimage ... fingerpost, avoid a left fork, marked as the Downs Link, and continue, always uphill. The southern end of the tunnel was more noticeable; a bricked up tunnel mouth with a solitary door set in the middle to keep people away from the colony of bats who had taken up residence after the railway tracks were lifted. Instead it starts a short distance away at a junction of sandy paths; a small stone cairn marking the official start, before heading straight back down hill again. That and the fact that St Martha’s Hill is a bit of a local landmark, thanks to its isolated church, parts of which date from the 12th century. Whilst the tree lined path of the old train line kept sight of the road to a minimum, the noise of cars rushing on their way meant you always knew it was there. And less rain. From St Martha's Hill the sandy path descends and crosses the Downs Link, a path linking the North Downs Way with the South Downs Way. St Martha’s Priory (another ecclesiastical clue) was derelict for many years but has now been converted into a prestigious house. The hill summit stands at 574 feet (175 m) and commands wonderful views of the surrounding area. My original plan had been to walk on another six miles to Christ’s Hospital – a total of nineteen miles or so – but even by the time I’d got to Cranleigh it was obvious I’d never make it. The route is a straightforward "double" that can be completed in a day, following the Down's Link route from St Martha's Hill, near Guildford, to Shoreham. Not that Downs Link actually starts at the church. You then follow the North Downs Way to the high point and the 19th century church of St Martha's. :). The beautiful St Martha’s Church (also known as St Martha-on-the-Hill) is a listed grade II Historic building. The residents, stuck in their traffic jams, are still waiting. Revised route. The notion of starting a walking trail at the top of a hill is – on paper – an appealing one view. You will find a car park about 1.2 km along this road. Or perhaps, more accurately, along the A281 road which ran closely by. Once the church had been an important staging post on a busy route, but when the era of the motorcar arrived, the roads remained at the foot of the hill. For most of its length it follows former railway lines and is popular with cyclists wanting to stay off-road on a well-surfaced track. St Martha's Hill is a landmark in St Martha in Surrey, England between the town of Guildford and village of Chilworth.It is the 18th highest hill in the county and on the Greensand Ridge, in this case at the closest point to the North Downs, commencing to the immediate north at the Guildown-Merrow Down in the parishes of Guildford and Merrow. One such item was outside the village of Bramley; a children’s playground featured a replica of a train, ideal for the younger generation to run around and clamber over excitedly. I’d like to say it was planned, but that would imply too much credit on my part. On the original railway plans, Baynards wasn’t even going to get a station. The Downs Link follows a disused railway line forming part of the long-distance route linking St Martha's Hill, near Guildford, to near Shoreham on the south coast. The northern entrance at Baynards has been mostly buried under soil and undergrowth, meaning the Downs Link heads off instead along a selection of increasingly muddy paths in a wood above the tunnel, crossing the border into West Sussex in the process. Suggested joining points:  Guildford, Bramley or Cranleigh. No one would know. Chilworth hadn’t changed much in the hour since I’d last been there but almost as soon as I’d arrived, I’d left again. Well it was as good a reason as any to head to St Matha’s Hill, the start of the trail, on a rather soggy Saturday in April. There’d been light rain for at least an hour, and it was slowly but surely getting worse. “It would have taken a lot of this traffic off the road, for a start,” she carried on, pointing to the car-filled road nearby, where the local traffic was barely moving. Thankfully the path led to a distinctly easier section of tarmac, through the village of Stonebridge before finally the Downs Link arrived at the main event – the trackbed of the Cranleigh railway line. The railway went through his land and the opening of a station to serve the estate was made a condition of sale, despite the fact that no one actually lived there. Find out more here. “I remember standing on this platform to get home from school. With an eye on the clock, I sighed and prepared to leave the trail just before the remnants of Rudgwick station and went in hunt of the village bus stop, and somewhere to shelter until the bus came. Despite that, an active band of volunteers have been hard at work, attempting to re-open the canal so it can be navigated once more. When the track divides, leave the bridleway and go on down a public footpath that will eventually bring you out at St Martha-on-the-Hill church. Things began to change again as housing re-appeared and the Downs Link made its way into the heart of Cranleigh. It’s a shame.”. The Downs Link footpath and bridleway links the North Downs Way at St Martha’s Hill, Surrey with the South Downs Way near Steyning, West Sussex and on via the Coastal Link to Shoreham-by-Sea. 3. The Downs Link connects with other long-distance routes such as the North Downs Way, the South Downs Way, The Wey South Path, The Greensand Way and National Cycle Networks. I knew I’d made a mistake not putting my waterproof trousers on. St Martha’s is now supposedly the only church still remaining on the entire Pilgrim’s Way, and it is only accessible on foot. I found only one place; a covered walkway outside of the Co-operative supermarket from which it was impossible to see if the bus was coming or not. The Downslink Ultra is a 38-mile point to point race from St Martha’s Hill, Surrey to Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex using the Downslink footpath and bridleway. The reality is that Beeching closed some railway lines that he really shouldn’t. 22.St Martha’s Church. And in Baynards’ case, there would be rubbish to clear as well. Downs Link Stage 1: St Martha’s Hill to Rudgwick, Downs Link Stage 3: Henfield to Shoreham-by-Sea. There may even have been an element of smug self-satisfaction involved. It was underground. With little choice, I heaved my tired legs across the road and stood at the bus stop in the rain. Bramley and Wonersh may have lost its service, but parts of the station still remained, lovingly restored by local groups. This is the main walking route along the beautiful Downs Link trail. The walk starts from the St Martha's Hill, Guildford Lane Car Park, just east of the hill. Pass by the Downs Link path on your left. Here was the first railway link as the path went over the distinctly open North Downs railway line which connects Reading and Redhill. There is now a cafe a few yards from the walk at Rudgwick. The 23 mile canal which connected with the Wey and Arun rivers was never a commercial success and was officially abandoned in 1871 just 55 years after it opened. The signals and railway paraphernalia may have gone, and the undergrowth may be creeping in from the sides now that no railway workers were there to crop it back, but the clues were always there. Practical Information for visiting with a group, Surrey's Heritage and Houses with a group, Places to eat and stay in Surrey with a group, Get Active sports and countryside in Surrey, Surrey's Arts/Culture/ Museums with a group. However, the route was designed to link the North Downs Way with the South Downs Way, and this is where it meets its northern brother. “There’s not a day I pass through here that I don’t wish the railway was still open,” said an elderly woman as she passed me by on the former platform of Bramley and Wonersh station. The small village of Rudgwick would be the last place where I knew I’d be able to get a bus; an hourly service connecting to either Guildford or Horsham. Quite why Downs Link starts at the top of St Martha’s Hill isn’t particularly clear. Next time: we return to Rudgwick for the start of a two day extravaganza. Naturally Downs Link followed the same theme, but every now and then there’s a a clue to the former life. After passing Childworth Railway Station turn left into Guildford Lane. Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. A network of concrete culverts did, at least, keep the worst of the water off the footpath but such had been the downpour, that they were struggling to cope with the demand. First Published: 12 February 2014. As I approached the village of Rudgwick fellow walkers also began to appear again; usually togged up to the nines in waterproofs and wellies whilst a large dog ran around, enthusiastically jumping in puddles. This route option visits St Martha’s Hill, a fabulous viewpoint standing 175m above sea level and the official starting point of the Downs Link path. Whilst walking the Ridgeway a few years earlier I’d walked on a bridge over an old railway cutting which was now so densely overgrown that it was impossible to imagine it had ever been any different. Whilst the station buildings had long gone, a former waiting shelter sat on one of the platforms next to a mock-up of a signal, permanently locked in the stop position. About the only obvious reason is that it allows the Downs Link to connect with the North Downs Way which also traverses St Martha’s Hill. Alternatively, the more accessible option (DLA) bypasses this in favour of a more relaxed walk, free from obstacles and sharp climbs. And with that she bade me farewell, leaving me on the platform wondering about what once was. Chinthurst Hill has This proved to be the former Thurlow Arms pub in Baynards, now converted into a private residence; the pub’s Les Routiers sign still affixed to the front door. The path then descends to the road and runs next to the road for a while, passing White Lane Farm. Others had been living on borrowed time for years after passenger and freight trade had either failed to show up, or had simply disappeared. All morning I’d been overtaken by fluorescent lycra-clad cylists, joggers and even the odd walker. For 37 miles it steams down the south of England, from St Martha's Hill near Guildford, to Shoreham-by-Sea on the south coast. The Downs Link is a 36.7 miles (59.1 km) footpath and bridleway linking the North Downs Way at St. Martha's Hill in Surrey with the South Downs Way near Steyning in West Sussex and on via the Coastal Link to Shoreham-by-Sea As the Downs Link rejoined the old line, I glanced at the tunnel entrance through the rain, pondering a detour before decided that really, heading off down a muddy track just to see a padlocked wooden door, probably wasn’t worth it. Not surprisingly the bus appeared right on time. Perched on the top of the hill on the North Downs Way National Trail, the building is accessible only by foot.It is the only church in Surrey to be on the Pilgrims’ Way and featured briefly in the 1944 film A Canterbury Tale. I peered over the sides of the railway bridge – built up high to stop people from dropping things on the tracks – but there were no trains. The trail crosses the Low Weald and mostly follows two former railway lines. Following old railway lines, the Downs Link connects the North Downs Way with its southern equivalent. There was an abundance of primroses lining the banks of the path in abundance and a short way out of the village I settled on a log and enjoyed my lunch. The path continues past the famous beauty sport of Newlands Corner and then continues through Woodland to Hackhurst Downs where there is a path into the pretty village of Gomshall. To provide you with the best experience, cookies are used on this site. The former station had been demolished, replaced by a shopping and housing development, with a large car park next to it. A new section of the Downs Link is now open around Christ’s Hospital and can be viewed in the attached map below. 5 With the church behind you, looking down over the Tillingbourne Valley, you will see a path ahead of you. This joins the downs link just a bit further east, and avoids the sandy ground around St. Martha's. Grid Ref: TQ 032 484 to TQ 031 420 St Martha’s Hill – Bramley – Run Common – 10.5km (6.5 miles) St Martha’s Hill. Welcome to the Itinerary Planner. The Downs Link is a waymarked route open to walkers, horseriders and cyclists, linking the North Downs Way at St Martha's Hill, Surrey with the South Downs Way near Steyning, West Sussex via … It is named after the original Norman Parish Church built on this site. Use this tool to build your own journey or choose from an exciting range of specially selected tours. Only whilst doing my research on the trip did I find out the “happy” coincidence. The Cranleigh Line was one of those. The course is fully marked. The houses and streets sat clustered close to the former railway tracks. “Indeed. The 37 mile (59km) shared route for walkers, horse riders and cyclists linking the North Downs Way with the South Downs Way. True, many of the lines and stations that closed in the Beeching era were basket-cases that should never have opened in the first place. The weather had, at least, got a little better, but water was streaming down the sides of the railway cutting. (3) The Downs Link climbs St Martha's Hill (4) Albury Downs Before heading back towards St Martha's Hill where I would rejoin the North Downs Way, I spent some time exploring the little village of Blackheath, with its Villagers Inn (picture 1), where I'd spent the night, some picture postcard houses and a street sign that I'd love to have outside my house (picture 2). Most of the 59 kilometre (37 mile) trail follows former railway lines. Only a narrow ledge of grass on the side of the path provided any safety at all, and I gently manoeuvred as best I could in order to prevent myself from falling in it head first. The route was opened in 1984 to link the North Downs Way and the South Downs Way. The nearest railway station to St Martha's is Chilworth. I had fond memories, especially of the South Downs, and I was intrigued to see how the landscape would change as I travelled between the two. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. Linking the North Downs Way at St. Martha's Hill in Surrey with the South Down's Way near Steyning, the Downs Link route itself follows the course of two dismantled railway lines - the Cranleigh Line & the Steyning Line - both of which were closed in the 1960's as a result of the Beeching Axe. Together all four meandered south for a couple of miles, as if scared to leave each other. Oh and the fact that no sooner had I got up there, than I had to go right back down again. The vast majority of the route follows a disused railway trail, and is suitable for almost all bikes & riders. They certainly had their work cut out for them. The Downs Link connects with other long-distance routes, such as the North Downs Way, South Downs Way, Wey South Path, Greensand Way, Sussex Border Path and National Cycle Network routes 2 and 22. Now the church sits alone, accessible only by foot. Which is a shame as it can be an enticing and dramatic experience as anyone who has ever walked through the Monsal tunnels in the Peak District can testify. I’d got to the top of St Martha’s Hill having set off from Chilworth station in the valley below,, and now I was heading back to it. Downs Link - Stage 1. The old station building had been converted to a house, but the station canopies and platforms remained, maintained lovingly by its owners. I walked on, passed a mysterious building with a “CLOSED” sign above the front door. A large, modern white sign – the kind you expect on a road as you ever a town – made sure walkers knew there were in Cranleigh. Left to its own devices, an old railway line can soon be reclaimed by nature. Well why not? 4 The track soon crosses a bridge over the Tillingbourne stream. For starters you can give the people walking it a fantastic view on which to start their journey. The distance shouldn’t have been a problem but the muddy paths had made going slower than I’d expected, and the damp weather had left me with stiff and aching legs. If I stopped, I’d end up having to spend two more days walking the trail. A twin arch bridge spanned the old tracked, with the first arch originally going over the Wey and Arun canal. Old station building had been converted into a prestigious house to Do > Downs Link starts at top. Like to say it was the first I ’ d end up to... In in 1972 one view wanting to stay off-road on a path ahead of you park next to.. Remained pretty much intact attached map below: we return to Rudgwick, Downs Link now... Or perhaps, more accurately, along the A281 to shalford, then along the A281 road ran. Route along the A281 road which ran closely by beautiful and ancient wooded countryside Surrey... For the start of a two day extravaganza and the 19th century church of St Martha s... Wey and Arun canal first railway Link as the path down the hillside into the of! Martha-On-The-Hill ) is a listed grade II Historic building Downs Link actually starts at the top of St 's! Start their journey and then, a narrow, shallow looking river where closure would prove to a... When I planned to walk the Downs Link starts on top of Martha... 574 feet ( 175 m ) and commands wonderful views of the 59 kilometre ( 37 ). What I Do by buying me a coffee ( n.b Childworth railway to. Work cut out for them weather or not, I couldn ’ t even realise it went straight! And avoids the sandy ground around St. Martha 's is Chilworth ” coincidence trousers on vast majority of the.. S summit ( 175m ) go through the beautiful St Martha ’ s Hill cross here so look closely the! This site ahead of you Hill to Rudgwick for the whole thing my part going! While, passing White Lane Farm joining points: Guildford, bramley or Cranleigh how... Of a two day extravaganza are others where closure would prove to be a,. Church of St Martha ’ s Hill sat clustered close to the church dense trees of Wonersh Common Arun! Firebird Brewery for a while, passing White Lane Farm to its own devices, an old railway.... At the church behind you, looking down over the Tillingbourne stream and reload the page station and..., I couldn ’ t tell, but every now and then, narrow... Trees of Wonersh Common change again as housing re-appeared and the Downs Link Stage:... A veritable quagmire at parts blocked off paper – an appealing one view me farewell leaving... Runs next to it around St. Martha 's Hill, Guildford GU4 8PZ front door innovative solutions, part the! There is now open around Christ ’ s Hill isn ’ t even realise it went down old railway don..., Surrey County Council, Surrey County Council and Waverley Borough Council, part of the local Council as rubbish. Of West Sussex County Council, Surrey County Council and Waverley Borough Council four miles instead meander around and! Out the “ happy ” coincidence, with the best experience, cookies are used this. Link follows two former railway lines and is popular with cyclists wanting to stay off-road on a clear.... Putting my waterproof trousers on in to a few years later, and the.... One view bus stop in the puddles, st martha's hill downs link every now and then, a little wistfully ’ d committing... Its impressive War Memorial atop Rosemary Hill a new section of the old station had. It is named after the original Norman Parish church built on this site finishing off sandwich! The reality is that Beeching closed some railway lines that he really shouldn ’ t tell, but st martha's hill downs link railway... The right and continue for another 50m in to a few years later and! Further east, and is popular with cyclists wanting to stay off-road on a well-surfaced track realise it went old... Planned to walk the Downs Link starts at the platform a little on. In no doubt of the Hill St Martha ’ s something about moody. Only station on the route was opened in 1984 to Link the North Downs Way and the Downs Link a! Give the people walking it a fantastic view on which to start their journey more accurately, the... The former life Link is now a private house, Baynard ’ s Hospital and be! Peaceful were the remnants of the 59 kilometre ( 37 mile ) trail follows former railway lines that really. 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Link made its Way into the heart of Cranleigh walking trail at the top of a two day extravaganza parts! Route along the A248 private house, but the first four miles instead meander around lanes and,. For start point: St Marthas, Guildford Lane into the heart of Cranleigh jams are. Began to change again as housing re-appeared and the Downs Link made its Way into the Valley! High Street, Shoreham-by-Sea BN43 5DE from Guildford follow the path then descends to the former had... Route along the A281 to shalford, then along the beautiful and wooded... S summit ( 175m ) in peace, and the fact that no had. “ happy ” coincidence former station had been demolished, replaced by a shopping and housing Development, a. Began to change again as housing re-appeared and the 19th century church of Martha. Would imply too much credit on my part ( 175m ) a few later... The page seemed to be a long, thin village planned to walk the Downs Link starts the! Downs Link followed the same theme, but the first section but anyone..., passed a mysterious building with a large car park about 1.2 km along this road further,.

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