By Ben Blewett,
Punting in Cambridge is a must-do activity while in the famous city. A guided tour down the River Cam among the great many historical colleges is priceless
The city of Cambridge is well renowned for many things: the famous University of Cambridge with its numerous prestigious colleges, the historic architecture, and the many illustrious alumni of those prestigious colleges to name but a few. Punts were introduced to Cambridge as pleasure craft in Edwardian times and became especially popular from 1910, with one of the early pioneers, F. Scudamore, setting up business.
Punting season typically commences from early March and runs until November. Companies generally open from 9 a.m. and close at dusk. Prices are reasonable at 15 GBP per adult, 12.50 GBP for children and concessions available for senior citizens.
Booking onto a tour is really easy and you can use any of three main ways to do it. The first is by stopping by one of the operator’s main offices, either Scudamore’s or The Cambridge Punting Co , and booking. The second is simply by wandering the streets of Cambridge near the market square. Here you will either approach, or most probably be approached by, a representative of one of the operators, dressed in a traditional hat, striped t-shirt and flip flops. They will be able to book you onto a tour right there and then, very convenient. Alternatively, you can book online on the operator’s website.
The punts are either hosted by a knowledgeable guide, or can be taken out privately and have you (or a friend) as the puntsman.
A 1.5 km stretch of the River Cam from Queens’ College to Magdalene College is known as the ‘College Backs’. It is one of the most beautiful stretches of river in England, set amongst spacious lawns and intimate gardens. Here are some of Cambridge’s grandest buildings, including King’s College Chapel, the mathematical bridge and the Wren Library, to name but a few.
It is best to go punting when the weather is nice and warm, with clear blue skies. This is the opportunity to experience Cambridge at its most grand as you float along the river, perhaps listening to the guide regale you with information and tales of the river’s extensive heritage. It is relaxing to hear the gentle lapping of water on the hull in the arms of a loved one and bask in the warm sun as you are taken downriver. The hour-long tour is perfect for romancing your partner or taking your family out. Navigating busy stretches of water or low-lying bridges adds to the excitement of the experience.