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Linking the Downs at Bramley

There's plenty of interest along this easily followed old railway trail.

Distance 4.8 miles (7.7km)

Minimum time 2hrs

Ascent/gradient 82ft (25m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Bridleway following railway track, can be muddy after rain

Landscape Gentle, well wooded river valley

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorers 134 Crawley & Horsham, 145 Guildford & Farnham

TQ 010451TQ 055391

Dog friendliness A great walk, but scoop the poop or pay the fine!

Parking Stocklund Square car park, entrance off High Street

Public toilets Cranleigh's leisure centre car park

Notes Park at end of walk, then catch bus 53 or 63 to Bramley

1 Walk back out of the car park, turn right, and catch bus 53 or 63 to Bramley from the bus shelter just in front of the large public clock in Stocklund Square. The bus will drop you 100yds (91m) short of the former level crossing, so continue in the same direction until you reach the wooden gate onto the old trackbed. The line has now been converted into a bridleway, and the Downs Link and the Wey South Path both share the route here.

2 As the track pulls clear of Bramley, look out for an open field on your left. The old Wey and Arun Canal runs in the trees on the far side of the field, and soon you'll see it at the foot of the embankment on your left. The two old rivals run side by side for a time, until the railway enters a cutting and the last of the road noise dies away.
A little further on, a track from Rooks Hill Farm crosses overhead on an impressive, brick arched bridge. Then, 300yds (274m) beyond a Downs Link marker post, you'll come to a large Wey South information board on your left hand side. There's some interesting canal history here, and just behind the board lie the muddy remains of the canal itself.

3 Two brick arches further on, the Run Common road crosses overhead. Just beyond the bridge, a 200yds (183m) diversion along the waymarked Wey South Path will bring you to Run Common itself. You can explore the canal towpath here if you wish, though frankly there's not very much to see. Now the railway runs straight, climbing imperceptibly onto an embankment. After 750yds (686m), look out for a low brick wall on the left of the track, as the old canal crosses the line at an oblique angle. A little further on, the canal emerges beyond a matching brick wall on your right hand side.

4 Continue across the railed bridge over Cranleigh Water, and through the next brick arch, which carries the B2130 overhead and heralds the outskirts of Cranleigh. New houses sidle up to the line on your left, followed by a small industrial estate and a fork in the track. Turn left here, straight into the car park where your walk began.

Take a look at the old station across the road to your right, before turning left to begin your walk along the old track. The low, wooded embankment eases its way south out of Bramley, and domestic gardens nuzzle the railway banks. Even today, local people still recount how a train was machine gunned by a German fighter plane on this section during the Second World War; luckily, however, the only casualties were a couple of people injured by flying glass.

The line was originally promoted by the independent Horsham and Guildford Direct Railway Company, but was taken over by the powerful London, Brighton & South Coast Railway after the original contractor went bankrupt. The Brighton company completed the project - and promptly hit a snag which delayed the line's opening until October 1865.

Just across the Sussex border, the track through Rudgwick station was on a steep slope, and the Railway Inspector insisted that the gradient should be eased before trains could start running. This meant raising the embankments south of the station, and building a new girder bridge directly above the original brick arch over the River Arun. The two bridges remain one on top of the other to this day, and are now immortalised in the logo for the Downs Link path.

Where to eat and drink

Cranleigh claims to be England's largest village but is really a small town. In the High Street you'll find both ASK Pizza and Pizza Express, and the Onslow Arms. For lunches my own favourite is Tiffins Tea Room (opposite the war memorial) although, like Sea Fare fish and chips, it's closed on Sundays.

What to look for

Your walk begins at Bramley and Wonersh station and, although the station buildings are long gone, it's still an interesting landmark on the route. You'll see the platforms, as well as two of the station name boards. These were taken down when the line was closed in 1965, but the Parish Council rediscovered them 30 years later and put them back. The wall mounted postbox, which is still in use, is built into the remains of the station master's house.

While you're there

Loseley Park, between Guildford and Godalming, is well worth a visit. The house was built in 1562 by Sir William More, and his descendants still live here. Much of the stone for this lovely Elizabethan building was quarried from the ruins of Waverley Abbey, and the house also contains panelling from Henry VIII's palace at Nonsuch. You can wander in the magnificent walled gardens, or enjoy a stroll around the nature trail in the park before rounding things off in the tea room and gift shop.

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