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the downs link stage one

run common - bramley - st martha's hill

The Downs Link bridleway was established in 1984 to link together the North Downs and the South Downs Way. The trail crosses the Low Weald and mostly follows two former railway lines. Much of the track is owned and jointly managed by West Sussex/Surrey County Councils and Waverley Borough Council.

We cycle alongside former navigable stretches of the Wey & Arun Canal, which closed in 1871, through Run Common. The Wey & Arun Canal Trust aim to restore London's lost route to the sea, back to navigation.

Under a railway bridge along leafy woodland paths where I spot a grey squirrel rummaging in the undergrowth.

Through replica crossing gates into the grounds of the old station. Click on Cranleigh Railway Info for nostalgic photos from the archives.

So the story goes, the enamel sign was returned to the station in the mid 1990s, after being used for many years as a shelf in a greenhouse in Worthing!

When the station building was finally demolished, the corner holding the postbox was left.

A replica waiting room has been built alongside a restored platform edge.

The last train pulled out of Bramley & Wonersh station on its way to Horsham, on the 12th of June 1965.

Blackheath village traces its roots back to 1833, before which there is no record of a rate paying inhabitant. There is a monastery nearby.

Pine with needles and roots underfoot, along with birch and oak, define the landscape in this area.

85% of Surrey heathland has been lost since 1752, and the careful removal of trees is helping to restore this. The acidic, sandy soil is perfect growing conditions for heather and gorse.

During World War Two, the Canadian army were based on the common, which excluded villagers and livestock from the heath.

No doubt this stage is the most enduring, only the superfit can cycle the steep hill up towards St Marthas. My bike was pushed for me on this stage, with me lagging behind with hands on waist!

A 59 kilometre (37 mile) route which is open to walkers, horse riders and cyclists. By reaching this plaque we have now completed each stage of the Downs Link.

Looking down on a beautiful Weald & Downland landscape where on a clear day eight counties can be seen. The woodland here comprises of oak, holly, hawthorn and hazel, and in Spring, bluebells.

Having come to the conclusion we may not visit this area again, we took the final steep incline up to St Martha's church, which sits on the top of the hill. Dating back to the twelfth century, this church became a ruin after the dissolution of the monasteries, and was restored during the nineteenth century.

On the way up we passed a couple of walkers, who had great pleasure in letting us know there is free tea and cakes on offer. No time to sit on this bench!

We parked up the bikes and headed towards the gathering crowd, the friends of the church, who were holding their annual Easter Fun Day. We left a small donation towards the restoration fund, and with cup of tea and chocolate buttercream slab cake in hand, we sat for a short while before making tracks back to Bramley Station.

After having cycled this stage in drizzly rain and poor visibility, which makes for very difficult cycling and muddy conditions underfoot, it was an enormous relief to see our van parked up, waiting to bring us back home, and dry!



Glo said...

Wow ~ that was quite the expedition ~ it just shows that carrying on to the end has its rewards ~ in the form of goodies, this time :) It's good to see the restoration that is taking place. BTW you were speaking about Port Isaac and Charles Winpenny on his Cornwall CAM site has some great photos (Friday, April 17) of the area.

www.cornwallcam.co dot uk

I came upon Port Isaac by chance back in 2000, after realizing how commercialized Clovelly had become. Lovely area.

periwinkle said...

You must have been shattered , but it looks like a gorgeous ride - the cake will have been well deserved
lisa x

funkymonkey said...

I really enjoyed sharing your bike ride. I'm sure the tea and cake were just the thing you needed when you reached the church. I loved your photographs. I really must get Rob to get his bike fixed so we can start going out again.


Kim McBirnie said...

I love your photographs, they really do your journey justice - and what a journey! My aerobic fitness is rubbish, I'd never manage it, even with cake.

Kim McBirnie said...

Completely forgot to say, my swetcon is coming on a treat, thanks!

Glo said...

Hi Louise ~ just thought I'd mention that the white flowering plant you admired on my blog posting is a magnolia stellata ~ I found more info on the following site:


Anonymous said...

Louise that was fantasic! Thanyou so much for the walk and all the intersting information, I thoroughly enjoyed it. You write a very good description and your photographs are lovely.
Thankyou for your visiting on my blog too. I am feeling much better now, though not quite 100% my doctor said its a glandular fever type virus and will take a while to clear.
I got the yellow sprinkles from here http://www.lakeland.co.uk/
they may not have any Easter ones left of course but it's possible they'll have some others. The make is Fiddes Paines, you might be able to find them somewhere else, aparantly Tesco sometimes have them, but not my branch.
Hope the coming week is good to you x

nikkipolani said...

Louise, you've such romantic images like the moody woods of Weald and Downland landscape and the hills of St Marthas. I can almost taste the cool damp air.

By the way, roomie went to visit our dear boy Minou yesterday. He is loving his new home. She bought him a new cushy bed that's never had any competing cat scent on it. He is delighted with his new garden domain with the dozens of birds chirping in every tree and butterflies flitting by the blossoms. And his new people already dote on him with hugs and kisses. I know you'll miss him, but I wanted you to be assured that he is happy and well cared for.

Gina said...

Beautiful photos Louise..is that your bike resting on the building in the last one? We get a lot of gorse down here too..terrible pest to remove! "D

Simone said...

It looks like a beautiful cycle/walk. If the Surrey healthland is perfect conditions for growing heather and gorse then it would be great for growing blueberries and cranberries! I have just planted up my blueberries into the ground and believe they like an acidic sandy soil! I hope you enjoyed your cup of tea and slab of cake at the end of your journey.

Rosie said...

What a wonderful cycle ride, the countryside looks wonderful and the history of the area interesting - tea and cake as well - perfect:)

LizzieJane said...

What wonderful pic's, such lovely places and things to see. You must have been pretty tired when you returned home, that was a lot of cycling.

the homely year said...

What lovely scenery...the view (and the cake!) must have been worth it when you got to the top.
Margaret and Noreen

acornmoon said...

What a sweet little church.

Anonymous said...

What lovely photos, I love the old postbox and all the wooden signs.

On squirrels, I only seem to see red ones here which is a novelty which still hasn't worn off!

Lesley said...

Wow what a good view from the top of the hill! I'm not surprised you walked up! What a lovely adventure. You make me want to dust my bike off and go for a ride x

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I've been reading the posts I've missed on your blog while I was away, Louise. I love when you go to these interesting places on your bike rides. So fascinating!

Anonymous said...

Hi Louise,

I cant find an email address for you, so just poped by to invite you to take a look at my VERY new blog

Any advice you can give me re the blog, or getting it into circulation as it were, would be very much appreciated....I seem to have wandered abit off the mark with the latest post,I admit, a little bit serpentine shall we shall. But I have loads of scrummy yummy pics (more appropriate probably than slow worms he he!) to put up. My camera battery is flat at the mo, not surprisingly, but will post later when I can retrieve them from said camera.

Anyway, hopefully speak soon.


The Vanilla Tree