The Downs Link is a 37-mile shared route linking the North Downs Way with the South Downs Way and offers cyclists, walkers and horse-riders a way to explore the countryside mainly off-road.
The route follows a disused railway line from St Martha’s Hill in Surrey to Shoreham-by-Sea in West Sussex. With close proximity to London, it’s an ideal activity for a long, relaxing weekend.
In this round-up we’ve listed some of the best spots to visit along the way including breweries, tea houses, campsites and B&Bs.
Locations: Partridge Green, Rudgwick, Slinfold, Henfield, Steyning and Shoreham.
Partridge Green is a small village near Horsham and offers plenty of places to relax. Dark Star Brewery has been producing characteristic hoppy beers since 1994. With a 45-barrel brewhouse, pop into the shop and try one of the freshly made beers or book a private tour if you’re a large group looking to learn more. The shop is open Monday to Saturday and booking is essential for group tours.
If it’s a pub lunch or a filling Sunday roast you’re after, you can’t go wrong with The Green Man. As a popular hotspot in the area, be sure to book so you’re not disappointed.
A bike-ride on the Downs Link is not complete without a visit to Stan’s Bike Shack. It’s a friendly café, popular with cyclists and is well-stocked with everything you might need for your cycling adventure.
Known for its timber-framed buildings and old houses, Rudgwick is a small village at the top of West Sussex, closely bordering Surrey. It’s surrounded by local wildlife and is perfectly placed for enjoying country walks. Home of the Sussex Charmer Cheese, be sure to visit The Milk Churn coffee shop, which is situated next door to Woodsome Farm and immediately adjacent to the Downs Link. Known for its famous cheese on toast, enjoy the comfortable surroundings and enjoy this Sussex cheese whilst admiring the views.
Need to rent a bike? Southwater Cycles are situated on a farm in Loxwood, which is a 10-minute drive from The Milk Churn. Offering a range of bikes for hire, Southwater Cycles also promote the Downs Link route and have a guide to help navigate your cycle adventure! You can download this guide here.
If you’re making a weekend of it, set up camp at Canfields Farm, a stunning camping area based around a working farm. It features a great undercover area at the camp’s centre, which means wet weather won’t stop you devouring your campfire treats.
Set amid the beautiful West Sussex countryside and four miles west of Horsham is Random Hall Hotel, a 16th century farmhouse offering 14 bedrooms, a fantastic restaurant and log fire lounges. It’s an ideal location for an overnight stay and with Slinfold Golf and Country Club a 10-minute walk down the road, you can enjoy some early morning golf or enjoy perfect serenity and relaxation in the club’s treatment rooms.
After an adventure-packed day exploring the Downs Link, the 14th century Red Lyon Pub offers a selection of ales and a menu that boasts an array of pub lunch classics, perfect for a cosy evening by the fire.
Further south on the Downs Link route is the village of Henfield, where some of the oldest medieval buildings reside. It is also home to one of the oldest cricket clubs in the world, formed in 1771. With heritage and gardens at the heart of this village, visit Henfield’s museum and learn about its history. Or if you’re looking to soak up some culture, head to Britain’s largest prairie garden – Sussex Prairie Garden, which hosts a variety of sculptures and artwork alongside stunning collections of plants and flowers.
If you’re peckish when passing, take a stroll to Relish on Henfield’s High Street. This modern café offers an array of brunch options to suit all tastes. Its specials board is updated daily with vegan and vegetarian options, along with homemade cakes, pastries and sausage rolls.
Close to Henfield, Steyning is known as one of the most picturesque towns in Sussex as it sits within the inspiring landscape of the South Downs. For some locally sourced treats, visit the Sussex Produce Company and fill up on delights from some of Sussex’s very best food producers. For a spot of afternoon tea, venture out for some quintessentially traditional British tea at The Cobblestone Tea House and enjoy sweet treats in the charming historic tea house.
If you’re spending the night, Springwells is a boutique B&B in the heart of Steyning. The Georgian country house offers six en-suite bedrooms, a snooker room, a conservatory dining room and a heated outdoor swimming pool.
Located at the mouth of the River Adur, the seaside town of Shoreham-by-Sea offers a town centre with plenty of shops and a range of watersports for those who enjoy a coastal retreat. Kickstart your morning overlooking the river with a coffee in hand at Tom Foolery Coffee Company and if you’re after some entertainment, make sure to visit The Ropetackle Arts Centre. As Shoreham-by-sea’s award-winning arts venue, you can expect all kinds of music, theatre, comedy and film.
If you’re a fan of aviation and looking for a unique dining option, book a table at The Hummingbird Restaurant. With stunning views of the airstrip, this unique restaurant offers views unlike any other and serves delicious meals.
We would love to see photos, posts or reviews from your Downs Link adventure, as well as any recommendations of your favourite places to visit or things to do during your stay. Tag us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to tell us more about what makes #YourWestSussex.