The River Cam is said to be the heart of Cambridge as it glides through the world-famous Cambridge College University. Punting on the River Cam in a traditional Cambridge punt is an escape from the swamped life into a serene and blissful scenery that freshens our minds.

Your 45 minutes of punting in Cambridge would be a stupendous experience with the views of all the world-famous Cambridge landmarks including the King’s College Chapel, The Wren Library at the Trinity College, and the masterpieces like the Bridge of Sighs, Mathematical Bridge, and many more. Punting in Cambridge is a perfect outdoor activity for a weekend trip in Cambridge and serves as a perfect destination for any kind of celebration.

Steeped in History

When it comes to history, not just the River Cam punting, but the sightseeing it offers has a story to narrate. If in a chauffeured punt, the expert punter omniscient about the history of Cambridge and Great Britain transforms your punting experience into a red-lettered one. Gliding through the river and listening to the history of punting is an impeccable experience.

The acclaimed traditions of education and higher learning from Cambridge University is well known all over the world. The Charter of King Henry III founded the university in 1209 and Cambridge serves to be the second oldest English speaking university in the world.

When it comes to the history of punting, punts were developed in medieval times to provide a stable craft in shallow water areas. One such area was the Fens, the marshy flatlands to the north of Cambridge, where punts were used in the local trades such as reed-cutting, fowling, eel fishing and transporting cargo until Charles drained out Fens in the late nineteenth century for making the super fertile land suitable for farming.

The first-ever punts are associated with fishing in the river Thames. Pleasure punts in the river Thames, specifically built for recreation and entertainment became popular between 1860 and 1880.

See the Sights Whilst Punting on the River Cam

The Vintage Buildings

If you are starting your 45 minutes trip from Mathematical Bridge, you could start the amazing trip being fascinated with the geometry of this epic bridge. Gliding through the river, and passing the bridge, the enormous Queen’s College that was built in 1448 awaits you to your right. The mathematical bridge itself is an extension of Queen’s college. You will be surrounded by vintage buildings on both sides. Moving on, St Catharine’s built-in 1473 is to your right and you will have vast greenery that imparts a serene and subtle feeling to your minds on the left. 

On the way, you could see other tourists enjoying their punting trip like you. It is estimated to have more than 0.5 million punting tourists every year. While waving to your fellow punters and enjoying the views on both sides, glimpses of 1209 built University College starts to appear. The view of this enormous college and its distinctive building is eye-catching view. Far behind, the King’s College Bridge built-in 1819 awaits you. You could see traces of the people walking over it even from miles away. 

The Serene View

Passing the bridge, a widespread green field where the cattle graze would be on your left and the massive King’s College built-in 1441 on the right. It is continued with the College Chapel built-in 1446. The immense college campus and the clear blue sky over it offers a lifetime view. You could extend your vision to the Claire College bridge built in 1640s, even from miles apart. Immediately as you travel beneath the bridge, your right side would enhance the beauty of your vision with the Claire college campus that was built in 1326. 

Then comes the Trinity Hall built-in 1350 to your right. The river Cam is a great place to spot wildlife including ducks, swans and herons. You could see the ducks swimming in the river, while you punt. The recently built (2005) Jerwood Library is a reflection of modern architecture. It also has a bridge connected. 

The Masterpieces

Now, gliding through the river, you reach the Trinity College Bridge built-in 1764. Passing the bridge, you find 1546 built Trinity College to your right. Being refreshed and rejoiced by the views, and feeding the ducks swimming in the river, you could watch the New Court built-in 1831 at your left, the 1709 built Kitchen Bridge awaits you on your way. It will be soon followed by its sibling, The bridge of Sighs built in 1831. St Johns who owns both the bridges are seen to the right. Unlike other bridges, public passengers are not allowed to pass through the Bridge of Sighs

Thus, Punting in Cambridge is the only way for tourists to enjoy this masterpiece. Later, you can see the Cripps Building to your left and far away, gliding through the river Cam, you could see the Magdalene Bridge built in 1823. It even carries buses over it. Passing the Magdalene Bridge, you reach the Magdalene College built-in 1428. 

The punting experience is truly mesmerising irrespective of the season. The cherry and daffodil blossoms that line up the river is an eye-catching view. You can even make your punting during winter a remarkable one, by wrapping yourself in a blanket and staying warm and cosy in the punt. Although you’ll be frozen with cold, the experience would be adventurous and the sights the nature offers would be an impeccable one.

Life is never short of uncertainties, and it can sometimes be a terrorizing feeling when things do not turn out the way you expected. But certain people around the globe fully embrace a life filled with uncertainty and tread the path of adventure. They are just ordinary people with extraordinary zeal who chose to abandon the structured social norms to explore the unknown terrains of this planet and their lives. To them, adventure means the courage to explore their lives by relentlessly pursuing things that challenge the so-called “conventional” way of living. By leading such an exhilarating life, they are endowed with an experience which only a few in the world are blessed to perceive.

Let Us Now Explore The Life of Some Inspiring Travel Bloggers 

1. Kiki – The Blonde Abroad

Leaving her decent job in wealth management, Kiki embarked on an incredible journey to explore the world. The Californian native is an avid globetrotter who has travelled extensively and covered a staggering 71 countries. The decision to quit her successful career for quenching her soul’s thirst for meaning has led her to a lot of destinations that echoed the essence of vibrant culture and history. With refreshing experiences, she was able to realize a renewed sense of freedom and happiness that prompted her to start “The Blonde Abroad” blog. The blog contains a whopping 1500 articles that offer valuable insights to travelers and inspire people who are yet to explore their dreams of travelling.

2. Kristin – Be My Travel Muse

Meet Kristin! She’s one of the prominent travel bloggers in the world with 5 million visitors annually visiting her blog to gain incredible knowledge and tips for travelling efficiently. She has defied the odds several times in her life by fearlessly hitchhiking across China, and that too on a solo trip. Her other adventures include hiking 18,000ft in Nepal which lasted for 14 days without a guide, leading her life as a Buddhist nun for 10 days, freediving in the South Pacific alongside the Humpback whales and leading several adventures tours with women all around the world. She has travelled to over 50 countries and gained relevant experience in leading worldwide tours. Her blog is packed with different genres of articles on topics that include various first-hand experiences, culture, food and travel hacks that have been helpful to her during her foreign adventures. 

3. Anna – The Legendary Adventures Of Anna

Anna is an avid solo traveller who has explored her way to various adventures by sailing through the Caribbean country of Belize in Central America, rappelling the challenging craters of Israel, exploring the wilderness in Tanzania and exploring the culinary treat of Japan. All these adventures were accomplished in her 8-year solo travel escapades. She is a specialist in social media consulting and is extremely fond of photography, which is accessible in her blog. She has garnered ample attention from over 1,00,000 social media followers for posting a plethora of exceptional content and articles. She is highly motivated to make a difference in the lives of her followers and the people she meets during her travel by sharing her share of life experiences that she has gained throughout her extraordinary journey. Various publications including the Huffington Post, The Travel Channel and several others have showcased her work in the form of photography and inspirational travel guide articles.

4. Sabrina – Just One Way Ticket

Sabrina is one of the funniest travel bloggers you will encounter online, with an extensive range of quality content in her blog. The contents which include several insightful travel videos, photography and articles on various genres have caught the attention of travel aficionados around the globe. In 2017, she became the brand ambassador of Cebu Pacific Air and had travelled extensively with them for her travels. She has captured the beauty of several Asian countries such as Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Hong Kong in its pristine beauty. Evidently, she was also the winner of Best Culture Travel Blog 2018 and received a golden award for the same from TBC Asia.

5. Vanessa Rivers – Glitter & Mud

Vanessa Rivers is the founder of Glitter & Mud and another travel community known as “We Are Travel Girls”. Both these initiatives have been a guiding light for thousands of female travellers around the globe. Her blogs are packed with a comprehensive range of articles, guides and reviews about different countries, restaurants, hotels, travel hacks and many more. She is an avid traveller and proud mom who loves to juggle her time with family, travelling and documenting her escapades on “We Are Travel Girls” and “Glitter & Mud”. Furthermore, “We Are Travel Girls” was co-founded with her friend Becky van Dijk which focuses on empowering women to explore the world. They have also launched the charity division known as Travel Girls Giving to assist the needy.

6. Sherry – Otts World

Sherry quit her corporate life in 2006 and has been trotting the world ever since. She started her travel adventures during her stint as an Information Technology professional. It was a life-changing trip to Istanbul that paved the way for her evolution as a travel blogger. A mantra that she keeps close to her heart is this fantastic quote from Gilda Radner –

Some Stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity

These golden words have helped her to embrace ambiguity throughout her exploration around the world. Her transition from an amateur solo traveller to a seasoned travel blogger has positively influenced the lives of many people who were afraid to step into the world of the uncertainty of travelling alone.

7. Rachel – Rachel Roams

By covering seven continents and journeying through a whopping 70 nations, Rachel Rudwall has undoubtedly evolved into a jack of all trades when it comes to travelling the globe. She’s a multifaceted personality who has received several coveted accolades and nominations. She is also a media buff who has extensively worked in all dimensions of mass media communications that includes media productions, content creation for an iconic automobile brand, photography, Tv and digital hosting etc. She has gained immense experience from travelling widely to some of the most faraway destinations which are unknown to the majority of the world. As a result of the incredible insight that she has gained over the years, she was inducted as an Explorers Club “Fellow” which promotes the incredible spirit and feats of exploration. It is interesting to note that, in the past, several high profile explorers such as Sir Edmund Hillary, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Jacques Piccard and Elon Musk have been inducted as Explorers Club “Fellow”. 

8. Trisha – P.S. I’M ON MY WAY!

Trisha is a renowned traveller in the world of exploration and has been continuously travelling for 11 years. She has made her passion for travelling into a full-fledged job that supports her in leading the adventurous life of a digital nomad. Her blog P.S I’m On My Way is a fantastic travel blog that imparts the necessary knowledge to travellers for efficiently living and sustaining on a long term basis. She was also supposedly instrumental in helping over 5000 backpackers around the globe to travel with her impressive insights, reviews, tips and travel hacks. Additionally, she is a well known public speaker who has given many speeches including TED talks.

9. Christine Ka’aloa – GRRRLTRAVELER

A trip to India was the turning point in the life of Christine Ka’aloa, who faced a string of adverse situations and emerged victorious in the end. That adventurous trip was pivotal in the birth of her solo travel blog, GRRRLTRAVELER. This blog primarily focuses on providing several survival tips and hacks in the face of uncertainty. She also demystifies the fear of travelling alone in foreign lands and gives sufficient insights on dealing with cultural shocks. You can also discover a great deal of information regarding the different dimensions of travel on her social media platform.

10. Vicky – Vicky Flip Flop

Vicky is an exceptional travel writer and a trained journalist based in the UK. She has gained a massive reputation for travelling over 75 countries and coincidentally she was ranked the 75th best blogger in the world. Based on another polling she was ranked the 5th best blogger in England. She is also extremely fond of festivals and has experienced over 60 of them around the world. Her works have been featured in numerous reputed media establishments such as Business Insider, BBC Radio, Forbes, The Guardian, Huffington Post and several others. Her blog is packed with enormous insight for travellers seeking some of the finest destinations on all the seven continents.

Touring Cambridge during winter is a magical experience. And, winter is an even better season for many people to go punting in Cambridge. Even though the temperatures can drastically drop, punting is, without a doubt, one of the most rewarding winter activities in Cambridge. Without the summer crowds, you can go punting and gleefully immerse in the beauty of the picturesque surroundings on the River Cam. With less traffic on the River Cam, there is freedom of movement, and you can see the same destinations in Cambridge from a whole new perspective. It can be fun, and absolutely enjoyable to drift across the River Cam in the depths of winter. And surprisingly, Cambridge transforms into one of the most exquisite locations in England during the winters. Having said that, we have some valuable tips to help you stay warm and cosy throughout your punting adventure.

Wear A Winter Coat

The British weather is unpredictable and can be unforgiving. You could be caught in freezing temperatures, especially from wind chill. It might also rain unexpectedly, so make sure to pack a decent waterproof winter coat. This will keep you sufficiently warm enough to enjoy your Cambridge punting trip. Otherwise, you might not appreciate the beautiful views if your body is numb.

Have Good Walking Boots

Even though your feet will always stay dry when you are sitting in a punt, the grassy areas surrounding the river might be muddy and slippery. High-quality and warm boots will ensure that your feet are warm and avoid any dangerous falls, especially if there is melted ice on the ground. Boots will also make you look classier and more stylish compared to wearing trainers in winter.

Don’t Forget Your Camera

In the modern digital world, people often say, “Pics or it didn’t happen!” Although we encourage every punter to live in the moment and enjoy their scenic trip, it wouldn’t hurt to take some incredible photos and share them on social media. That is the best way to make friends and family feel jealous that they missed out. You do not need to have a professional DSLR camera hanging around your neck all the time. A smartphone is more than enough to capture the majestic beauty of Cambridge and share those memories with loved ones back home.

Bring Gloves and A Hat

The weather in Cambridge can feel freezing during winter. A warm woolly hat and gloves will be necessary to keep you warm so you can enjoy the entire ride on the River Cam. You can also do a walking tour around Cambridge University after the punt and hold hands with loved ones without freezing your fingers.

Carry A Thermos

It is impossible to enjoy an authentic British tour without some hot tea. You can carry a thermos with some tea to sip on during your punting trip. This will give you a warm and fuzzy feeling in your tummy as you take in all the sights and learn the most fascinating titbits about the famous university. If you are not a big fan of tea, try some mulled wine with cloves, cinnamon, and citrus. Mulled wine is also one of the most popular hot drinks to have in England during winter because it warms and satisfies the soul.

The architect Henry Hutchinson designed this masterpiece for St John’s College of Cambridge University in 1827. Built across the river Cam in 1831, Bridge of Sighs bridges between original parts and New Court of St John’s College. The bridge becomes unique as it is the only covered bridge over the river Cam and the only college bridge built in the Victorian Gothic style. It is an architectural masterpiece which you can stalk at while punting through the River Cam in Cambridge.

It’s  sibling, the Wren Bridge, or a punt moving  in the river Cam provides the best view of the bridge.

The bridge design goes hand in hand with the romantic Neo-Gothic style, the signature of architectural fashion at the time. It’s one of the most loved and fascinating features in Cambridge. The bridge was Queen Victoria’s favourite spot in the city than any other tourist attractions in Cambridge.

The key feature of the bridge is the tracery opening having stonework elements to support glass. But the bridge doesn’t have any glass. 

Key facts about the Bridge of Sighs

  1. Second bridge built by the St. John’s College
  2. The only covered bridge across river Cam.
  3. The bars in the open gothic fenestration prevents one from climbing in or out.
  4. The name bridge of sighs is so popular that there are a total of 9 bridge of sighs around the world.
  5. The bridge has a posh and plain side. The right side is the best for photography.
  6. The bridge has appeared in blockbuster movies; The theory of everything (2014) is the most recent.

Naming of the Bridge

In October 1843, Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert visited Cambridge. A reigning monarch had been to Cambridge for the first time in about 120 years. And hence citizens were greatly excited with the royal visit.

On their trip, the royals visited several colleges, including St John’s. It was about 12 years after the completion of ‘New Bridge’ and the fellows of the college were enthusiastic to show them the ‘New Bridge’.

Reports say that Victoria fell in love with the sight and remarked it as the most “picturesque view in Cambridge”. She stated that this favourite view of her in the city reminded her of the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ in Venice. 

The bridge is popularly known as the “Bridge of Sighs”. Although, the only factor it has in common with the Bridge of Sighs in Venice  is that they are both covered. 

However, another common myth is that the students named the bridge. It was in context of its existence within the college grounds. The function of the bridge supports the belief; it links 2 quadrangles of St John’s College in a covered path. On the contrary, its sister bridge, the Kitchen bridge is an open air bridge. The rumour says that the name of the bridge came from the sighs of the students on proceeding from their quarters back to the tutor’s office in the main college quadrangle.

History

St John’s college(founded in 1511) is 3 centuries older than the New Bridge and the New Court. St Johns was the first College to expand its accommodation westwards into the area known as “Backs of Cambridge”; until then, every college bridge in Cambridge was on the east side of the River Cam.

In 1827, architect Henry Hutchison, a pupil and business partner of Gothic revivalist Thomas Rickman, designed the new buildings and bridge. The expansion was named “New Court”; it was the newest part of the college.  In 1831, they completed the entire project. A few months later, Hutchinson died.

The bridge was first named “New Bridge” as it connected New Court on the West bank with 17th century Third Court on the East Bank. However, soon it was known as the “Bridge of Sighs”. The famous Bridge of Sighs in Venice, Italy, an enclosed bridge that connects the ducal palace to the court and prison was the reference for the name.

Pioneer photographer, William Henry Fox Talbot took the first ever known photograph of the “New Bridge” in 1844.

Student pranks and Blockbuster movies

Since its construction, the Bridge of Sighs, Cambridge has been featured in numerous photographs and artistic projects. Some blockbuster movies, including The Theory of Everything (2014) and Elizabeth : The Golden Age (2007) had the bridge as one of their sets.

The bridge even has a history of cars suspended from its arches twice. The students were the pranksters. On both these occasions the bridge managed to escape from any kind of damages.

On both the occasions, students pulled the prank by dangling a car under the bridge. In 1963, students strapped an Austin 7 with 4 punts and it was punted down the river. And ropes tied hoisted up the car under the bridge. The prank became so infamous. In 1968, students used a Reliant Regal 3-wheeler car to repeat the prank. 

Sister Bridges

St John’s is significant as the only Cambridge College to feature two bridges on its main site; The Bridge of Sighs and it’s sister, the Wren Bridge (also known as ‘Kitchen Bridge’). They run parallel to each other.

The Wren Bridge was constructed to replace a pre-existing wooden bridge and is a century older than the Bridge of Sighs. 

Christopher Wren submitted his design for a stone bridge to St John’s in the 1690s. But, the building work commenced only in 1709. The workers completed the project in 1713. Robert Grumbold supervised the construction. Wren suggested urns and pyramids in his original drawing. But, the work didn’t have them in construction. But still, the bridge perfectly reflects Wren’s design.

Wren Bridge is a tourists’ pedestal route through the college. While access to the Bridge of Sighs is only for the ones in St John’s College. This enables an uninterrupted view of Bridge of Sighs for the visitors.

The tranquil scenery of The Backs in Cambridge makes an incredible backdrop for casual walkers and nature lovers. A relaxing stroll along the serene river Cam, and the vibrant streets of Cambridge can instantly get you transported to a different era altogether.

Moreover, the stunning colleges of Cambridge are open to the public throughout the year that makes them one of the “most photographed” Universities in the world. With an extensive coverage of green spaces surrounding the overall campus and its vicinities, the backs in Cambridge certainly takes the top spot as one of the most attractive spots in London. It’s not just Cambridge University but the entire surroundings are enveloped in picturesque scenery in every location.

Why are they called “The Backs” ?

Cambridge University consists of 31 distinguished colleges, out of which 8 of them have the rear/side facade of the buildings and grounds facing the “Cam”, the river associated with the backs. In medieval times these grounds were extensively used for herding cattle and cultivating crops. Also, the River Cam was a busy commercial trade route in those eras.

This stunning location comprises several colleges that are flanked on either side of the River Cam.

Darwin College

This famous college was established in 1964 and named after the renowned English naturalist Charles Darwin. The entire college was built using the Victorian and Georgian styles of architecture. Also, the college grounds are integrated with the Darwin College bridges for easy passage and connectivity to the two islands owned by the college. Furthermore, Darwin has the honour of being the first graduate college in Cambridge to admit both men and women.

Queen’s College

Several iconic, medieval and modernistic styles of buildings can be found at the Queens College in Cambridge. They are famed for having their college buildings on either side of the River Cam. The connectivity between these two halves of the college is accomplished with the help of Mathematical Bridge. As the name suggests, the Queen’s college was established by two royals of England, Queen Margaret of Anjou and later by Queen Elizabeth Woodville. They were the wives of King Henry VI and King Edward IV, respectively, of England.

King’s College

King Henry VI was the founder of this distinguished educational institution in Cambridge. Kings is globally considered as an architectural marvel that showcases an exquisite range of Gothic-style architecture designs. The largest fan vault in the world and the gorgeously stained-glass windows are the other tourist attractions at King’s. Robert Walpole, the first prime minister of Great Britain was one of the famous alumni of the King’s College.

Clare College

Formerly known as the University Hall, this famed college of the Cambridge University boasts several iconic buildings and monuments like:

Old Court

“This grade I listed building is one of the most historic structures in England. The design of the Old court is a fusion of the Classic and Gothic style of architecture.

Memorial Court

“This structure was designed by the architectural genius of Britain, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott.”

Clare Bridge

“Built completely out of stone, this is the oldest bridge in Cambridge to survive the civil war.”

Trinity College

King Henry VIII founded this esteemed college in 1546. This building houses an enclosed courtyard, which is said to be the largest in Europe. The reputation of the college lies in its impeccable architecture, the picturesque gardens and obviously, the 32 Nobel laureates from this prestigious institution. Popular attractions in the Trinity includes :

  • The Wren Library at Nevile’s Court
  • Trinity Bridge
  • Whewell’s Court north range
  • Great Court
  • The River Cam( river associated with the backs in Cambridge)
  • Clock Tower
  • Great Gate

Trinity Hall

The Bishop of Norwich, William Bateman, was the founder of this distinguished college in Cambridge. Established in the year 1350, Trinity was historically a law school but currently teaches arts, sciences and humanities. The architectural elegance of the Trinity exudes a medieval ambience, and the main building was modified to a Baroque style in the 18th century by the English jurist Sir Nathaniel Lloyd. Also, the college is open to visitors on certain days for self-guided tours and is one of the famous tourist attractions in Cambridge.

St. John’s College

Established in the year 1511, this institution is one of the eminent Oxbridge colleges in the Uk. St.John’s is renowned for producing numerous high profile alumni including Nobel laureates, prime ministers and several archbishops from various countries. The college is also well known as a tourist attraction spot in Cambridge with multiple heritage sites and architectural marvels. Some of the top sites include the Great gate, The Chapel, First Court, Second Court, Third Court, Chapel Court and Cripps Building.

Magdalene College

This institution is one of the distinguished colleges of Cambridge founded in the year 1428 and reputed for hosting the Benedictine monks in the past. The college was again founded in 1542 and thrived under the patronage of the nobles of Britain such as Duke Of Norfolk , the Duke of Buckingham and Sir Christopher Wray. Visitors can explore the magnificent college buildings , gardens , Pepys Library ,Cripps Court on certain days and also enjoy punting in Cambridge.

A chronicle of “The Backs”

The past

The lands that now constitute “The Backs” were owned by several colleges of the University in the past. These spaces were extensively filled with orchards, gardens and used as pasture grounds. For better connectivity, these lands were attached with wooden bridges built across the River Cam. Later, Lancelot Capability Brown, one of the greatest English landscape architects, laid plenty of wilderness by the Queens Road.

FACT – The Backs in Cambridge are listed as a Grade I Historic Park by the English Heritage

The Present Day

The Backs are currently set to undergo significant stages of evolution under the patronage of six colleges of Cambridge University. The next 50 years will reportedly witness drastic changes that improve the quality of the landscape and enhance the total appearance of “The Backs”. The transformations will be implemented under the expert guidance of Robert Myers, a landscape architect based in Cambridge. Moreover, the strategy involves the plan to enhance the existing landscapes and the formation of a wildlife corridor.

Being a traditional flat bottomed boat having a square cut bow, a punt is designed for the usage in shallow water. Punting is the use of punts to tour around the amazing Cambridge University. What is more exciting is much of the route is only accessible by river. If you are a tourist who loves to explore Cambridge, we can help you choose the right punt tour for you, based on price, time, season and location. We assure you to provide an experience that could be cherished as a red lettered memory for an entire lifetime.

What is punting?

Punting is the act of propelling the punt in the traditional fashion using a pole or Quant by a person, generally called a Punter, from a platform at the stern. Seating for the passengers is arranged in the middle of the boat. There are generally cozy cushions and blankets to keep you comfortable. A punt is often confused with a gondola in Venice, which is a shallow draft vessel that is structurally different, and is also propelled by an oar rather than a pole.

The History of Punting

Cambridge punting, now popular among tourists as a unique way to explore Cambridge, was originally used as a mode of transport. Earlier, it was used to transport goods around the shallow boggy sites which surrounded Cambridge. Leisure punts were first introduced in the U.K in the mid-1800’s and overall has grown in popularity since then. Sometimes used as vehicles to move goods commercially, the industrial revolution has confined it simply to a popular hobby in modern times.

The Punt boat explained

The flat-bottomed craft is not unique to Cambridge, but the city certainly marks some of the most famous punting worldwide. The boat itself is known as a punt and its drive as punting. It is a Latin term meaning “to push” because the technique used to propel the craft is to push it off the bottom of the river with a long pole (proper term: quant). Though the Venetian Gondolas which use an oar seem similar to this, it uses a different technique. Unlike Venice, the bottom of the River Cam has more gravel than mud which produces a striking voice as the pole touches the bottom of the river.

Popular cambridge punting tours

Once mastered, the technique allows a person to move a heavy load on a boat with relatively less energy expenditure and it is for this reason that merchants and farmers in ancient Cambridge used the punts to transport goods. A few sights along The River Cam proves this statement to be right including the river level doors at St John’s College and the steps on the old docks, now known as Quayside.

How to Punt?

The first thing you need to do to move a punt is turn your feet to the right hand side of the punt and keep the pole on the right hand side. When you want to go straight, pick the pole completely out of the water and slide through your hands until it hits the bottom of the river bed, if the rocketing line is where the back of your foot is. When you need to move your punt straight, walk your hands to the top of the pole, and try to keep the pole in line at the side of the punt.

When you want to steer the boat, keep the pole just under the surface of the water and you can use it like a rudder. If you want to go right, swing the pole under the water to the right hand side. If you want to go left, swing the pole to the left hand side. If you need to turn around sharper or need to turn around completely, take the pole from the water, place it away from the boat and push it away from the boat until the boat spins around. To slow down the boat or bring it to a complete stop, one of the easiest ways is to pick the pole out of the water, place it in front of you along the side of the boat and apply your weight, then the boat stops.

Advanced Punting Techniques

While traveling through higher flow, you need to adjust your maneuvers such that the punt is being directed relative to the moving water, and not to the still riverbed. In this case, if you travel at the same speed as the river, you’ll no longer have control on your boat. You gain control either by moving up or downstream relative to the flow.
Also be cautious when you observe a difference in water texture because it may be the Eddies which are caused due to the presence of fixed obstacles. Eddie’s may cause the water to flow either in a different rate or in opposite direction depending on the object present.
Though the theory is just simple physics, driving a punt is much more difficult than it might appear. So if you dream of learning to punt, book our chauffeured punts, so that a professional could teach you the lessons in an effective way.

Different options for punting

We provide you with 3 different options. You can either Drive yourself or take a shared tour or a private tour, where a chauffeur would accompany. If you are adventurous and love challenges, choose the self-drive. If you prefer to relax and enjoy the beauty of Cambridge, then depending on your budget pick a private or shared tour. Self drive punts are smaller than the tour punts, so you’re limited to 5 passengers.

Private and shared tours

This gives a chance to relax and enjoy the beauty of Cambridge in peace. Generally, private tours are more expensive. But if you are interested in sites, this might be the best option because:

  • The chauffeur would give a historic commentary.
  • The experienced chauffeur would cover the distance within time.

When punting on the River Cam in Cambridge, you can choose between taking a chauffeured tour with a driver and self-driving the boat. Here is a brief description of different options for punting in Cambridge.

Self-drive

Self drive would be cheaper if you know punting and you are a team of more than 2. The boats are narrower and faster if driven properly, however, despite looking easy, punting is an acquired skill. So you may not be able to direct the punt easily. And extra charges would be hired for extra time taken.

Chauffeured Tours

History of Punting in Cambridge

Chauffeured punt tours are strictly of the larger 12-seater boats which are more stable, making them safer than the smaller self-drive boats. The chauffeurs would give you detailed information about every landmark and also ensure that every destination is covered on time.

We provide more packages in Chauffeured Punting

  1. Shared Punting Tour (1-3 People) : Book a flexible ticket(s) and join the other passengers on a 9 persons’ chauffeured punt.
  2. Shared Punting Tour (4-6 People) : This is also a 9 passenger’s punt, where you could book your tickets join your co-passengers
  3. Private Punting Tour : A chauffeur would take you to locations you need for 50 minutes
  4. Cambridge Hen Party Tour : Ladies can have a hen party in the Cambridge River with all the food and alcohol you bring on board.
  5. Punting for Large Groups : Catering up to 100 passengers is possible at a time. A group with more than 24 passengers can avail for a discount
  6. Evening Punting Tour : Illuminated college buildings can be seen if the punting gets started at dusk
  7. Punting on Special occasions : Celebrate your special occasions at Cambridge, the hotspot for celebrations.

Punting Prices

With varying scenarios and occasions, Tyrrell’s Punting company has a great deal of offers awaiting you.

Private punting tour charges with your chauffeur can range from £110 – £140. And shared punting tours with booking for 4-6 people along with chauffeur a can range from £65 – £90. Evening punting tours which range from £100 – £140 are also available.

The services we provide you assure an unparalleled experience with a perfect value for money and time. If you are looking for a most economical punting experience, choose our shared punting.

Punting Tours Weekdays Weekends
Shared Punting Tour £35 (Up to 2 people (own seat))

£40 (3 people (own seat))

£65 (Up to 6 people (Half boat))

Tuesday to Friday (Excluding Bank Holidays)

£50 (Up to 2 people (own seat))

£55 (3 people (own seat))

£90 (Up to 6 people (Half boat))

Weekends, Monday & Bank Holidays

Private Punting Tour £110 £140
Cambridge Hen Party Tour £100 £140
Punting for Large Groups Contact Us or Call +44 1223 782303 Contact Us or Call +44 1223 782303
Evening Punting Tour £100 £140
Punting on Special occasions Contact Us or Call +44 1223 782303 Contact Us or Call +44 1223 782303

Tips on how to save money punting

Buying online

This is almost always the cheapest option. With zero chances of haggling, most companies provide their most competitive deal online. Also, Voucher codes are often found in Google searches.

Shop around

Whether you are buying in person or over the internet, don’t buy your tickets from the first company you come to. Most often the popular ones may be charging high compared to the others. So have a comparison on the prices and the ratings of the companies before booking your tickets.

Buying in person

Punt tours are sold by salespeople called touts who are punting brokers. Only a shrewd negotiator will get the best price from them. Cheaper rates are available for a group of 4 or more.

Larger companies need to be avoided as they set higher targets. Smaller companies don’t do this, yet. It’s better to reject discount vouchers. This helps touts with a better deal to approach you.

During the peak time, the companies come to full capacity, hence negotiation on price is nil at this time. Try to avoid 14:00-16:00 to get the best rate. Evening rides are the most expensive. The cheapest times are 10:00-12:00 and 16:30-17:30.

What is the best time to go punting?

Seasons

The fact is you can punt at any time of the year in Cambridge. The only time which gives a halt to it is during a heavy rain or lightning, which occurs very rarely. Here is a brief description of the sights you happen to watch during different seasons of the year. Each season gives a different perspective to the trip.

Spring

Daffodils and cherry blossoms line the river banks. Warmer temperatures, clear skies and sunshine await you. The river would be a little busier but you can still relax and enjoy floating in the river.

Summer

This is the most popular season to go punting. On a sunny day, it is busy like hell, that there might be heavy congestion, boat crashing and people falling in. Though not relaxing, it’s exciting and fun to watch even from the bank. Gardens with a wide variety of blossomed ravishing flowers give an aesthetic appeal to the Cambridge College.

Autumn

Trees shed their leaves and River Cam will be flanked by trees, leaves, and other vegetation drenched in autumn colours. This adds up to spectacular scenery.

Winter

During the winter, punting in snow is both challenging and fun. The prices will be a lot cheaper during winters and you can enjoy a great deal of peace and calmness with lesser chaos, you almost own a whole river. Punting in the fallen snow is a unique experience.

What time of day?

The time you choose for punting has an effect on your tour. Irrespective of the weather, Weekends and bank holidays are the busiest. Going midweek will give you more of a relaxed experience. To experience the river at its quietest go as early or as late as possible, with 12 pm to 4 pm being the busiest.

Morning

Sunrise is the quietest and best for photography sessions .Even though it’s cold, it’s an effective way to avoid the hot summer sun.

Middle of the day

Irrespective of the heavy traffic and congestion, most people choose 12pm to 4pm as it’s the least cold time and gives a guarantee on the weather.

Evening

This is the best time to punt. Even during summer, the river is the most secluded in the evening, which is beneficial for sightseeing. The sun sets in the trees behind the college grounds and the lit college campus is an eye catching view.

Exactly where to go punting in Cambridge

Punting in Cambridge

The punting from Cambridge to Grantchester is considered to be the most desirable route with spectacular serenity. It is quite famous for its calm and enchanted meadows, trees, villages, and pubs. Punting to Grantchester is a unique experience, with plush greenery and serene nature on either side of the river. Grantchester is situated 2 miles south of Cambridge. Plenty of scenic beauty and architectural excellences awaits you on your way. Some of them are the Bridge of Sighs, King College Chapel and Mathematical Bridge. Each of them is historical remarks over decades.
After punting past the college backs and Newnham, we move past the enchanted Grantchester meadows where you can see cattle grazing peacefully among the lush green lands, and finally reach the famous Grantchester Village. This popular retreat, lying some 4km (2.5 miles) to the south of Cambridge, with historical monuments and thatched cottages, was once the beloved home of the First World War poet, Rupert Brooke. The ‘upriver resort’ is a hub for punters who take a tea at the Orchard and relax on the meadows.

Punting in Oxford

The punting start at the Cherwell Boathouse and meander by the playing fields of the Dragon School, gliding gently through the University Parks past Lady Margaret Hall, and continuing a relaxing exploration downstream, eventually arrive at the bathing site for Oxford Dons, Parson’s Pleasure, where the punt turn round and wend its way lazily back.

Traditions of punting in Oxford and Cambridge are different: Punters in Cambridge stand on the till and the open end of the punt would be facing forward, while in Oxford they stand inside the boat and punt with the till forward.

What to take with you?

Although, the traditional punt clothing is a blazer, which isn’t particularly sporty, wearing a seasonal cloth would be more comfortable. Punting in River Cam is a relaxing trip to enjoy the aesthetics of Cambridge. Just bring a bottle of your favorite drink to enjoy on your trip. During winters, bringing a blanket to keep you cozy is recommended.

Punting in Cambridge is the best way to explore the sights and learn all the history and accomplishments that this incredible city proudly holds. The River Cam passes through the heart of Cambridge University’s campus, offering the most unique views of the famous colleges. Most chauffeured Cambridge punting tours start from Magdalene College Gardens and go all the way through St. John’s College, Trinity Hall, Trinity College, Clare College, and finally Kings’ and Queens’ College. Though chauffeured tours are currently on hold due to the nation slowly recovering from lockdown, the weather for the rest of June is set to be marvellous and full of beautiful sunshine because summer is here. There has never been a better time to connect with the best and brightest British roots by renting your own punt for the day. Imagine giving your friends or family members a good laugh as you entertain them with your radical navigation and balancing skills. You do not need to be an expert punter to rent one of these traditional English boats. Here is why it is worth going on a Cambridge punt all by yourself without queuing up with all the other tourists. 

Learn Incredible History

The University of Cambridge was founded in 1209 and is the second-oldest university in the world. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. The birth of this incredible school came about when scholars at Oxford fell out with the local government and townspeople after a woman’s death in the city. They were not on good terms with the king, and the event created an uproar, causing them to migrate to surrounding cities, such as Cambridge. When those scholars moved to Cambridge, the new institution was founded and is known for many Cambridge punting tours for a reason. Sir Isaac Newton, Cambridge’s best-known inventor, and a remarkable scientist and mathematician walked the halls of this university. He invented the reflecting telescope in 1688 and was a fellow of Trinity College, which you can visit on your very own punt. 

Enjoy the Weather

England is getting sunnier by the day because summer is here. The temperatures are set to hit up to 30 degrees Celsius, which is perfect for wearing a pair of shorts to go on a Cambridge punting tour. If you are renting your own punt, bring a picnic basket with tons of snacks and cold drinks for the day. Your loved ones will thank you for those tremendously. 

Beat the Queues

The best part about punting in Cambridge right now is that there are no queues. Instead of booking in advance or standing in line under the scorching sun, you can beat the summer crowds and start Cambridge punting immediately without planning to spend an entire day waiting for your turn.