Punting in Cambridge
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 punting in Cambridge 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, especially the historic punting in Cambridge
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.
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 travelling through higher flow, you need to adjust your manoeuvres 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 you. If you prefer to relax and enjoy the beauty of Cambridge, then depending on your budget pick a private or shared tour.
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.
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
- Shared Punting Tour (1-3 People) : Book a flexible ticket(s) and join the other passengers on a 12 persons’ chauffeured punt.
- Shared Punting Tour (4-6 People) : This is also a 12 passenger’s punt, where you could book your tickets join your co-passengers
- Private Punting Tour : A guided tour for 50 minutes
- Cambridge Hen Party Tour : Ladies can have a hen party in the Cambridge River with all the food and alcohol you bring on board.
- Punting for Large Groups : Catering up to 96 passengers is possible at a time.
- Evening Punting Tour : Illuminated college buildings can be seen if the punting gets started at dusk
- Punting on Special occasions : Celebrate your special occasions at Cambridge, the hotspot for celebrations.
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 – £189*. And shared punting tours can range from £20– £150* depending on the amount of people going. *At time of writing, September 2022.
The services we provide you assure an unparalleled experience with a perfect value for money and time. If you are looking for the most economical punting experience, choose our shared punting
Tips on how to save money punting
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.
Buying in person
Punt tours are sold by salespeople called touts who are punting brokers.
What is the best time to go punting?
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.
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.
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 Colleges.
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.
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.
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.
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
Plenty of scenic beauty and architectural excellences awaits you on college backs tour. Some of them are the Bridge of Sighs, King College Chapel and Mathematical Bridge. Each of them is historical remarks over decades.
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.