Take a gentle ride to enjoy the the saltmarshes and mud flats of the River Adur Estuary. This RSPB reserve can look totally different at high or low tide, so it may be worth doing it more than once!
You follow the Downs Link trail and a quiet country lane on this looped ride which starts and ends in the historic harbour town of Shoreham. Time it right, and you could have the chance to savour some great local tastes at the farmer’s market at the end of your ride. If not, there are plenty of independent cafes to try instead.
The ride also links with National Cycle Network routes 2 and 223. There is parking at various points along the A283 or on the Annington Road which run on either side of the River Adur.
This is a great ride for cyclists of all abilities. The route north out of Shoreham follows the Downs Link (National Cycle Network route 223) which is an old railway line. You can actually follow it all the way to the North Downs some 40 miles away. This purpose-built bike and footpath can get quite busy at times.
You return south to Shoreham on a narrow country road. It’s not a busy road, but cycle with care and follow the Highway Code. Where this road crosses the very busy A27 near Shoreham Airport please only cross when the traffic lights are green.
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You start in what the Normans referred to as ‘New Shoreham’, a harbour town at the mouth of the River Adur, used for navigation since Roman times. The town and port were established by the Norman conquerors towards the end of the 11th century. To this day, Shoreham Port remains a key fishing port and more scallops are brought to shore here than any other port in Europe.
You can find out more about this area’s unique history going back to prehistoric times at the Marlipins Museum. This striking 12th century building is the oldest secular building in Sussex and may originally have served as a customs house for the port. Although there is plenty of ancient history, the museum also tells the story of how the town became the UK centre for the silent movie industry just before the First World War.
The Adur Estuary is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and an RSPB nature reserve. It is the only local saltmarsh habitat with extensive mudflats that support wading birds, more so in the winter. Oystercatchers, snipe, lapwings and dunlin are some of the birds you may spot, as well as kingfishers, plovers and turnstones.
As you cycle up estuary, you reach Old Shoreham, which dates back to pre-Roman times. You can see the square squat tower of St Nicolas Church, founded by Anglo-Saxons at the start of the 10th century.
Near Erringham Farm Valley is Shoreham Cement Works. Long disused its future is the subject of much discussion. The large chalk quarry exposes sequences from Lower Lewes chalk to Upper Seaford chalk, both of which are 50m thick. The valley’s chalk grassland and woodland have notable butterfly populations.
Throughout the ride you can see Lancing College rising up from the valley. The knave of the college chapel, built in the Gothic Revival style, is one of the highest in the country at 90ft.
On the West side of the Adur Valley you cycle through Botolphs, a tiny village formerly known as Annington. It was a centre of salt extraction from the Adur Marshes in medieval times. The Saxon church of St Botolph’s dates back to 950BC.
Having crossed the A27, ahead of you is Shoreham Airport (also known as Brighton City Airport). This is the oldest airport in the UK. The Art Deco terminal building was built in 1936. Now Grade II listed, it is still used today.