In the Esher and Oxshott area there are several large ornate ponds which can be viewed by the walker. All are man-made and are large enough to be described as lakes.
I visited the middle and black ponds on a gloomy late summer afternoon but there was a fortuitous burst of sunshine as I photographed the middle pond.
A few minutes later, I and my bicycle had passed over the Esher By-pass, but, when I reached the black pond, the brooding gloom had set in again.
to find the ponds
Local people may scoff but the rest of us can lose our way in the Oxshott area.
the black pond
The black pond was built to supply water to Claremont Gardens. To find it, travel south-west from Esher, pass Claremont on your left, go over the next hill and find the small car park on your left. Follow the trail. To your right will be seen a bigger car park which serves a well known local feature called The Ledges. that feature should also be visited. Look out for the World War Two gun emplacement at the top. the ledges overlook the River Mole and there is also a view over Garston Farm.
the middle pond
You can find your way from the black pond to the middle pond on foot, but you may lose your way - do carry a map.
The easiest way to find the middle pond is probably to travel further along the main road, passing over the by-pass and immediately turning left in to the car park. You can walk east and find the pond after a short distance.
You may find that you can hack through from Oxshott station. By bicycle, my favoured route would be to cycle down Steels Lane, join Blundel Lane and turn in to Irene road on your right. Find a way to lock up your bike and travel on foot across the railway line - careful please - and find the lake - for such it is, it's too big to be a pond. In fact all three ponds are lakes - they are big - 100 to 200 metres across.
You cannot take bicycles across the railway line, due to a trap.
If there is a middle pond, is there an upper pond? Yes there is - it is no more than a pond and is not viewable.
The ponds lie south of Esher, Littleheath pond being as far south as Cobham.
the middle pond at Fairmile Common
It looks so tranquil but, in fact, the middle pond is right near the Esher by-pass and traffic can be heard roaring past close at hand.
In spring there is less shrubbery and wild Rhododendrons can be seen blooming in the area. The middle pond is the most picturesque because it is set within hills. It was created by building a dam in the south.
the black pond at Esher Common
The black pond is the most well-known of the ponds in the area.
the pond at Littleheath Common
The pond at Littleheath Common is the most recent. There were brick and gravel workings in the area and the pond was a gravel pit. Expensive houses line the north bank of the pond and the residents all have boats. The pond is popular with fishermen and is dangerous due to it's depth.
I do not fish but this page has been found by fishermen so I will try to advise. Fishing is banned at the Black pond but fishermen can be seen at the Middle Pond and at the Littleheath Pond. Both sites may provide a limited number of places to set up gear. The nearest fishing supplier I know of is F.U. - Fishing Unlimited, at East Molesey, near to Hampton Court Palace. There are several ponds on the west side of th A3 road, but I have not covered these. They are smaller.
At one time nude swimming was permitted in the black pond, where it is dammed in the west. It originated in Victorian times when attitudes to public nudity were more liberal than they are now. Apparently, most of the participants were women. There was a roped enclosure in the water and there were changing rooms. All have gone and the practice is no longer encouraged - a victim of our increasingly prudish and centralist society. I presume it was the nudity which caused our parents to tell us to stay away from the Black pond - certainly, I never witnessed it.
In response to interest from naturist groups...
There may be a move towards returning the nudist swimming area and I will try to post any developments. In the meantime, there was a well-known nudist swimming hole on the River Mole, at Cobham, near Downside Bridge. It is fenced off and is reached via a stile, to the west of the footpath that crosses the fields. You may find that it is licenced to a local fishing club, but people usually fish from the other bank. This swimming hole was active some years back but may now be found to be sadly overgrown. A local woman told me that she and her children used to swim there. Latterly, local boys, wearing baggy swimming shorts, used to swim where the cattle drink, a short way to the south.