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Towpaths and Trails

From Canal to countryside, take a walk along the towpaths and trails of the Wey & Arun Canal – ‘London’s Lost Route to the Sea’ – and in woodland around Loxwood in West Sussex.

towpaths and trails friends of the south downs

As its name suggests, the Wey & Arun Junction Canal was created to link the two rivers, providing an inland waterway from London to the south coast. At 18 and a half miles, and with 23 locks, it took a lot of manpower to dig but was completed in only three years. Here’s a chance to experience the towpaths and trails on foot.

The original intention was to avoid coastal traffic that could come under attack in times of war, but by the time it opened in 1816, the wars with France were over. The coming of the railways meant it was no longer profitable and by 1871 it had fallen into disuse and was abandoned for the next 100 years.

A group of volunteers formed the Wey & Arun Canal Trust in 1970 and have been restoring it ever since. Today, a significant section is navigable again and it is a popular tourist attraction. The trust raises funds by offering trips in a boat named in honour of the original consulting engineer, Josias Jessop.

This walk starts at the Wey & Arun Canal car park, behind Onslow Arms in Loxwood. From Billingshurst, the Compass Travel bus 64 and 69 both head towards Loxwood as well, if you’d like to leave the car at home.

towpaths and trails friends of the south downs

You can access the PDF version of our Towpaths and Trails walk here. We are grateful to the number of our members who have very kindly taken the time to provide us with detailed information about some of their favourite walks and we are delighted to be able to share with you.

For each of the walks on our website, we provide a PDF download for you to take with you and use as general information and guidance.

Would you like to come along on one of our guided walks or strolls? We walk all through the year, offering over 200 interesting walks and strolls. Our walks range from three miles, to a full marathon, up to long-distance trail walks over multiple days. Contact us today!

Ian Lancaster

Walks Coordinator