Downs Link Mission (Part 2) Shoreham-by-Sea to Guildford

Ding Ding, round 2. I didn’t manage to make it up for sunrise, but I did manage to make it down to the beach for 5:15am. My Air BnB turned out to be just perfect, comfy bed and hot shower. My hosts were very accommodating an let me stow my bike just inside their front door overnight. I had to sneak out quietly in the morning and said my thank you by text message later in the morning.

The sea wasn’t doing much for me photographically so I decided to concentrate my efforts on the beach huts and a quick self portrait before heading back on the trail.

Shoreham Beach Huts - Nikon D500

Shoreham Beach Huts – Nikon D500

¬†Missed opportunity here as given a little more thought I could have got the sea in this portrait, maybe next year ūüėČ

Shoreham Self Portrait - Nikon D500

Shoreham Self Portrait – Nikon D500

Breakfast had consisted of a squashed banana and some scotch pancakes, so I was all fueled up for the ride. It did however mean I had no trail food left to get me home, I was going to have to find something en-route.
The nice thing about doing a route twice is you can visit the things you missed the 1st time round. As an added bonus by going the following morning even the places I had photographed the day before had new lighting. Having tried the previous evening to photograph some of the orchids at the side of the trail without much success, this morning the light was in my favor and despite it being an iPhone shot it came out pretty good.

Pyramidal Orchid - iPhone 6

Pyramidal Orchid – iPhone 6

Next stop on the route back was Bamber Castle, I had had to pass by the evening before during the stunning sunset as I was too worried about making my B&B in time. The sky wasn’t as dramatic at 7.30 in the morning but it still made for a pleasing image. The wall in the photo is one of the few that remain standing of this Norman castle, it would have been an impressive sight in it’s day.

Bamber Castle - Nikon D500

Bamber Castle – Nikon D500

10Ks in to the return leg and lack of trail snacks was starting to become a problem. I’m a skinny guy and if I don’t eat regularly when biking I can get low on energy very quickly. Thankfully the locals had already thought of this and my hunger was answered with flapjack. The kids who made it must have been pleased to make a significant mid week sale, with¬†3 pieces of flapjack! The lemon drizzle version was fantastic.

Flapjacks - Nikon D500

Flapjacks – Nikon D500

¬†Unfortunately I didn’t get much time to spot wildlife on the return trip. However I did spot some curious cows (are there any other sort), I think they wanted some flapjack as well. It was only as they got closer I¬†realised they all had names. So from left to right we have; Gin Jingo, Josuper, Fantasmic ,Silver, Octavian

Cows Go Moo - Nikon D500

Cows Go Moo – Nikon D500

I couldn’t spend all morning talking to the cows, so headed off up the small hill towards Henfield. I think this field is one of my favourite spots on the link path, I like the pure countryside feel with the river to one side and could easily have spent the rest of the morning here with a good book. It made a good excuse for a bike portrait although I couldn’t be bothered to get the mini tripod out for a self portrait.

Bike Portrait - Nikon D500

Bike Portrait – Nikon D500

In the background of the shot you can just make out an old second world war gun emplacement. Pleasingly photogenic I had to try my hand at capturing some of the character of this old relic, it proved more challenging than expected with the barbed wire fence in just the wrong place. I got a bit heavy handed with the photoshop filters in post processing, but I like the result

Downs Link Bunker - Nikon D500

Downs Link Bunker – Nikon D500

It was a hot morning and by nearly 30k’s in (Christ’s Hospital) I was out of water and getting hungry again. Firmly in normal shopping hours unlike the previous day meant that Westons Farm Shop was open, thank goodness. I bought myself a litre of apple juice, two flat peaches and a couple of bananas, just the fuel I needed. I also got the chance to meet the farms incredibly friendly cat, apparently not a good mouser.

Not a mouser - Nikon D500

Not a mouser – Nikon D500

Despite the warm dry conditions I then managed to pick up a puncture. Thankfully I had repaired my spare tubes the night before so a quick swap in the sunshine and I was on my way. The only other interruption to my swift progress back to Guildford was a traffic jam. Usually on a bike you can squeeze past most traffic situations, however this was a new one for me as a whole riding school of horses turned on to the path in front of me and proceeded at walking pace for the next 200 metres.

Traffic - iPhone 6

Traffic – iPhone 6

Horses out of the way I ploughed on only stopping at the trademark Downs Link Double Bridge. I had taken a look the previous day but the lighting had been really poor and I decided to leave my photograph until this morning in the hope the bridge would look better. Significantly obscured by both summer foliage and scaffolding the bridge managed to look a lot better than the previous day and I had a chat with one of the men working on it. They had been there since the spring re-pointing and repairing brickwork. He reckoned they were less than month away from finishing.

Downs Link Double Bridge - Nikon D500

Downs Link Double Bridge – Nikon D500

¬†For the final leg of the journey I took the direct route following the Wey Navigation in to Guildford. I did not have time to go up to St Matha’s Hill and despite living near Guildford for many years had never been along this section of the Wey. I was rewarded with another puncture for my route choice! As I approached the city centre I spotted a canal boat I recognised, you can just about see the “Caniche” in the distance of the photograph below. I had captured her in rather more atmospheric surroundings at dawn in Ripley the previous week.

End of the line, Guildford - Nikon D500

End of the line, Guildford – Nikon D500

All in all the Downs Link makes for an interesting, if somewhat flat, cycle route. I am pleased to have finally ticked it off and will probably do it again some time.


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