Find out more here. 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. Revised route. Quite why Downs Link starts at the top of St Martha’s Hill isn’t particularly clear. 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. It also passes the Surrey heathland of Blackheath, with its impressive War Memorial atop Rosemary Hill. Bramley seemed to be a long, thin village. If I stopped, I’d end up having to spend two more days walking the trail. 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). There’s something about the moody dramatic lighting; the water dripping down the brick walls. A new section of the Downs Link is now open around Christ’s Hospital and can be viewed in the attached map below. 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. 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 … Welcome to the Itinerary Planner. 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. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. This joins the downs link just a bit further east, and avoids the sandy ground around St. Martha's. The Downs Link, which is managed by West Sussex County Council, Surrey County Council and Waverley Borough Council. The nearest railway station to St Martha's is Chilworth. The main option (DLM) follows the North Downs Way over St Martha’s Hill, where the Downs Link Trail officially begins. As far as Cranleigh was concerned, the railway was gone and would never be back. I peered through my rain splattered glasses, trying to work out if the line had been single or double tracked, but there were so many bramble bushes overgrowing everywhere that it was almost impossible to tell. 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. Bramley and Wonersh may have lost its service, but parts of the station still remained, lovingly restored by local groups. You are here: Things to Do > Downs Link off road trail. The hill summit stands at 574 feet (175 m) and commands wonderful views of the surrounding area. For some reason, footpaths down old railway trackbed don’t often go through the old tunnels. The route was opened in 1984 to link the North Downs Way and the South Downs Way. I’d just been attracted by the fact that it linked the North Downs Way and South Downs Ways, two trails I’d walked already. That didn’t stop the station also serving as a post office though, but even if the Cranleigh line had remained open, it’s hard to imagine the station would have survived with its splattering of houses and a closed pub. This is the main walking route along the beautiful Downs Link trail. 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. Now the church sits alone, accessible only by foot. Not surprisingly the bus appeared right on time. That the hamlet got anything can be credited to one Lord Thurlow. The old station building had been converted to a house, but the station canopies and platforms remained, maintained lovingly by its owners. Relatively straight, relatively flat. 5 With the church behind you, looking down over the Tillingbourne Valley, you will see a path ahead of you. Not that Downs Link actually starts at the church. It wasn’t hard to imagine that the Downs Link needed a fair amount of pruning on an annual basis to get the brambles away. Well why not? But the first four miles instead meander around lanes and tracks, starting from St Martha’s Hill. It’s true that I knew 2013 would mark fifty years after the publication of Beeching’s now infamous report on “reshaping” Britain’s railways. Things began to change again as housing re-appeared and the Downs Link made its way into the heart of Cranleigh. 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. 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. 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. “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 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. Last Updated: 4 January 2019. 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. To build your own Itinerary, click to add an item to your Itinerary basket. I walked on, passed a mysterious building with a “CLOSED” sign above the front door. 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. By 2009 the Association of Train Operating Companies even got in the act, suggesting the line could be re-opened in five to ten years. The reality is that Beeching closed some railway lines that he really shouldn’t. Almost all the trail follows the former trackbed of a railway closed in the 1960s as part of the Beeching cuts so it’s pretty flat. 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. “Indeed. 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. 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 trail crosses the Low Weald and mostly follows two former railway lines. But the first four miles instead meander around lanes and tracks, starting from St Martha’s Hill. Following old railway lines, the Downs Link connects the North Downs Way with its southern equivalent. Pass by the Downs Link path on your left. You then follow the North Downs Way to the high point and the 19th century church of St Martha's. 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. First Published: 12 February 2014. 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. Next time: we return to Rudgwick for the start of a two day extravaganza. No one would know. (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). 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. 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. Paths along old railway lines tend to share similar features. the “Downs Link” that runs all the way from St Martha’s to the South Downs Way and ultimately to the sea. 4 The track soon crosses a bridge over the Tillingbourne stream. The weather had, at least, got a little better, but water was streaming down the sides of the railway cutting. “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. Downs Link - Stage 1. The Milk Churn cafe is still there and also Firebird Brewery for a beverage. But in the 1960s the attitude was that the car would solve all our problems!” I replied with perhaps a hint of regret that can come from someone who has never owned a car, and who relies on public transport to get around. Please consider supporting what I do by buying me a coffee (n.b. Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. 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 remember standing on this platform to get home from school. But by the time I’d realised, my walking trousers were completely soaked; the wind choosing to whip the sodden material against my legs. The line only gets two passenger trains an hour in each direction. Post code for start point: St Marthas, Guildford  GU4 8PZ. 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. 22.St Martha’s Church. You will find a car park about 1.2 km along this road. Naturally, I found one within minutes of finishing off my sandwich and setting off one more. The Cranleigh Line was one of those. 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. Only whilst doing my research on the trip did I find out the “happy” coincidence. Almost all the trail follows the former trackbed of a railway closed in the 1960s as part of the Beeching cuts so it’s pretty flat. The bridleway climbs to the church on the hill’s summit (175m). The Downslink footpath and bridleway links the North Downs Way at St Martha's Hill, Surrey with the South Downs Way near Steyning, West Sussex. Again, now a private house, Baynard’s is the only station on the route to have remained pretty much intact. near Guildford is 175m above sea level. Downs Link Stage 1: St Martha’s Hill to Rudgwick, Downs Link Stage 3: Henfield to Shoreham-by-Sea. Sat a short distance from the trail, with a slight platform effect in front of it, it almost looked like the Thurlow Arms had been a station, but the former Baynard’s station stood opposite. The residents, stuck in their traffic jams, are still waiting. 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. Downs Link - Via St Martha's Hill. But putting footpaths through them means maintaining the infrastructure to a higher standard, plus lighting to install, health and safety hazards to assess. Far more peaceful were the remnants of the old canal along with Cranleigh Waters, a narrow, shallow looking river. However there are others where closure would prove to be a big mistake. Currently you have JavaScript disabled. Whether it was the weather or not, I couldn’t tell, but the Downs Link was now deserted. 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. 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. 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. It’s hard sometimes to walk down a long closed railway line and not thing about the steam trains and carriages that once came this way. Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. If the bus was early, the first I’d know would be when it went sailing straight past me. Others had been living on borrowed time for years after passenger and freight trade had either failed to show up, or had simply disappeared. 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. It’s a shame.”. 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. Enjoy this site? Recent rain had paid its toll on the footpaths as I slipped around on a path that had become a veritable quagmire at parts. Now I seemed to have the Downs Link to myself as the path headed straight along. Surrounded mostly by trees, the old railway line felt rather gloom in the rain, with only the odd bridge breaking it all up. 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. Chinthurst Hill has Sacred Summit. 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. 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. 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. Suggested joining points:  Guildford, Bramley or Cranleigh. 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. Quite why Downs Link starts at the top of St Martha’s Hill isn’t particularly clear. The beautiful St Martha’s Church (also known as St Martha-on-the-Hill) is a listed grade II Historic building. And then, a little further on, was something that left the walker in no doubt of the local history. For starters you can give the people walking it a fantastic view on which to start their journey. 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. 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