Easter 2012

The Downs' Link was an obvious choice for a long weekend's walk; the path starts a short walk from our house and ends near Chilworth. Chilworth is on the train line to Redhill, making it easy for us to get home afterwards. This path also links a walk we have already done (South Downs' Way) with one we may do in the future (North Downs' Way).

The route we took was just over 47 miles. This includes our walk to the start and from the end, so is more than the official 36 miles the Downs' Link includes. We broke this down using pubs and hotels en route. All of these were very close to the path.

Friday 6 April (12 mile)

We left the house at about 10:00am and walked up on to the Downs, meeting the South Downs' Way just west of Truleigh Hill. From there we walked west, crossing the River Adur, to the southern end of the Downs' Link. It was a great day for walking; sunny and clear. The wind was keen though, we were glad of our gloves when we were on the top.

We arrived at Bramber at about 1:00pm. After a pint in the pub (The Red Lion) we walked back to Bramber Castle to eat our sandwiches. It was incredibly warm within the shelter of the castle walls. The grass area inside was a popular place for family barbecues and picnics; the whole enclosure was quite busy.

From Bramber we continued north, arriving at Henfield at around 5:00pm. After a pint at the Cat & Canary pub, situated directly on the path, we went to our accommodation at the George Hotel in the centre of Henfield. The George was an incredibly friendly place, we feel Henfield is a place where we would not mind living. The inn is full of character, incredibly old. We were the only guests staying there on that night.

The evening meals were great, the short descriptions supplied on the menu did no justice to what was served. We were back in our room by 9:30pm.

Richard The George Hotel, Henfield Primrose

Saturday 7 April (13 miles)

Breakfast was excellent and huge. Henfield's supermarket provided pre-packed sandwiches for the day. We were walking by 10:00am.

Today was more overcast than the previous day, but the walk was quite sheltered on the whole; it was warm enough to walk without our coats.

We arrived at the Old Bridge PH in Copsale in time for a pint, but the pub has been closed down, and in currently undergoing a conversion in to an array of houses. Copsale would not be a good place to live! So we walked on to Southwater County Park, where we used the picnic tables to eat our packed lunch, along with a drink from the visitor centre.

There was the option to stop in Southwater village, which could have provided us pubs and supermarkets, but we waited for our pint until we arrived at Bax Castle PH. It was well worth the wait.

We passed the Bluecoat school "Christ's Hospital", which looks quite posh an unaffordable. We then had to walk alongside a road for a while. This was a shame, but we have to keep it in perspective; we rarely interact with roads at all. Even the road crossing tend to use to old railway bridges. We met a couple cycling the way with their dog.

We arrived at Slinfold and the Red Lyon PH at around 4:30pm. We feel a little more tired than yesterday, and the ruck-sacks are not as comfortable as they were. The pub was quite busy with the occupants in a party mood. A group of locals were discussing how they were going to get to Brighton for the evening. Having secured a lift from a friend, they left, leaving us envious of their rather nice pub.

The building is clearly very old and un-spoilt. Going to the room felt like we were going in to the attic; we had to walk amongst the roof beams, and the floor was in no way level. I guess this is the "olde worlde charm" I have read about in brochures. It was a better experience to use the independent pubs for accommodation rather than hotel chains. We spent the evening in the bar, reading books and writing this diary; an excellent way to end the day. The pub served a great meal, and we drank a bottle of wine each… we were in bed by 10:00pm.

Red Lyon PH, Slinfold double bridge near Rudgwick flower

Sunday 8 April (19 miles)

We were up early the next day, before the water had heated up enough for a comfortable shower. We were walking by 9:00am; we have more miles to cover than on previous days. The weather was a little damp at the start, but, luckily, it did not stay that way for long.

We saw the famous double bridge at Rudgwick, which was the inspiration for the logo used to mark the walk.

Lunch was taken on a bench just south of Bramley; a focaccia and some cheese we bought from the Slinfold shop the previous evening.

We decided not to leave the old railway line when the Downs' Link turned off it; we continued on the "Wey South", which follows a partly renovated canal. We found an afternoon beer at the Parrot PH in Broadford Bridge, before continuing along the Wey Navigation until the North Downs' Way crosses the canal south of Guildford.

From the foot bridge, the North Downs' Way runs east, taking us to St. Martha's Church. We had a quick look around before going on to the visitor centre for the North Downs' Way at Newlands Corner. From there, it was a very short walk along the A25 to the Manor House Hotel.

This last hotel was very smart; no more than we deserve after the last three days' activity!

We chose our evening meal from the set menu. The choice was excellent. We were joined by some friends in the evening, which helped make the meal a 'special occasion'.

sign-post Manor House hotel, Newlands Corner Downs Link St Martha's Church

Monday 9 April (3 miles)

We started the day with a swim and a play in the Jacuzzi, before our habitual cooked breakfast. It will be interesting to see how much weight the two of us have gained over the last four days.

It was raining today, as promised by the weather forecast. We put on our coats and over-trousers before leaving the hotel around 11:00am. The rain was not hard, and eased off soon after we started walking.

The walk to Chilworth Station took little over an hour, which included a look around the Newlands Corner visitor centre, and the site of the old powder mill in Chilworth.

There was a Bed & Breakfast pub opposite Chilworth station that would be an option to use for this walk, but I think the hotel provided us more what we wanted.

From Chilworth, the train took us to Redhill. This modern town had shops for us to browse, before we found lunch at The Garland PH, a lovely traditional pub opposite the Ford car dealer on the road out of Redhill.

Conclusion

It was an easy walk. Using the accommodation as we did meant there was no need for us to carry towels, shampoo and so on. All the accommodation provided excellent evening meals.


Useful web-sites