The River Rythe
The River Rythe rises in the vicinity of Prince's Coverts woodland near Oxshott and runs under the A3 road into Arbrook Common. It is joined by another stream and runs through Claygate and Littleworth Common to the Scilly Isles roundabout at Esher. The river then follows the Portsmouth Road towards Thames Ditton, and runs into the River Thames near Ferry Road, forming the boundary between Kingston and Thames Ditton.
In 1922 the Claremont Estate was broken up and Esher UDC acquired the manors of Esher and Milbourn (Waterville), which brought Arbrook and Esher Commons into public ownership. Arbrook Common was registered under the 1965 Commons Act but no individual commoners rights were confirmed.
Just 50 years ago the common was mostly open grassland; near Arbrook Lane there were benches set out and much picnicking. Since then it has reverted entirely to woodland. There are young oaks and some hazel on the farmland perimeters, with hawthorn and elm - probably from old hedges. The central area which was last to be kept open (partially by fire in 1959) now has a dense cover of species which are often first to colonise abandoned land; birch, willow and aspen. There is also some rowan, wild cherry and pine; holly and yew have moved in from garden hedges, and the alders along the stream now compete with vigorous undergrowth.
During the winters of 1993-4 and 1994-5, Elmbridge Borough Council began a programme of traditional woodland management by coppicing with standards (cutting sections of underwood on a 15-year cycle, leaving a scatter of timber trees, usually oak, to mature) which will benefit wildlife and ground flora.
Arbrook was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest in 1955.
Take in the sites of this beautiful common
The walk from the initial cache across the common is about ¾ a mile, it is flat and quite easy going along footpaths.