In the summer of 2019 I put together a loop using the Downs Link path north to Cranleigh, then following as closely as legally possible the Wey Arun canal back.
The route worked out OK, but living where I do we end up using the Downs Link a lot and let’s face it, that can be a little tedious. This year I decided to try and figure out a more MTB friendly route north to Cranleigh and try to minimise the Downs Link sections.
The section north of Warminghurst was new to me and it’s clearly a little used track, make sure you don’t give it a go if it has been really wet as it gets REALLY muddy, even after just a little rain.
The next part through the Knepp Estate is really beautiful. To quote them off the web site:
Knepp is a 3,500 acre estate just south of Horsham, West Sussex. Since 2001, the land – once intensively farmed – has been devoted to a pioneering rewilding project. Using grazing animals as the drivers of habitat creation, and with the restoration of dynamic, natural water courses, the project has seen extraordinary increases in wildlife. Extremely rare species like turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons and purple emperor butterflies are now breeding here; and populations of more common species are rocketing.
You can read more about their work here. It’s a fascinating place and there are lots of animals roaming free for you to spot as well as some viewing platforms up in the trees where you can look out and see what wildlife you can spot.
After Knepp is the very impressive looking Shipley windmill, which is apparently where the TV series Jonathan Creek was filmed.
After the windmill there are alternating road and bridleway sections until you join the Downs Link just to the north of Christ’s Hospital.
This is where it starts to get fun, you soon get a little more off the beaten track and many of the off road sections that follow are either on the bank or very near to the Wey Arun canal. Only a few sections are actually navigable and many parts of it are either drained or very low in water, with abandoned locks spread out along the way.
As you get nearer Loxwood you approach the parts that have been restored with new locks and bridges and you can take a trip from the pub there.
South of Loxwood you get taken away from the canal and then see it fleetingly from time to time. It’s so frustrating that the tow path alternates between bridleway and footpath, even though there is seemingly no difference in the trail.
South of Wisborough Green you cross the Arun and then the canal for the last time and then loop back the West Chiltington and back towards Storrington.
This is quite a long ride at sixty miles, but it is predominantly flat and there are plenty of pubs and shops along the way for refuelling as you go.