Punting in Cambridge
Punting in Cambridge is the most popular activity that is enjoyed by residents and tourists every
year. You can either go book a tour with a group or hire a punt to enjoy exploring the historic
A traditional punt is a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow that is perfect for
rowing on shallow water and small rivers. They were initially used as cargo boats and are now
used for pleasure trips for those who want to enjoy the sights around the world-famous
These boats can be rented by the hour if you want to experience your
own unique Cambridge adventure. If you are hiring a punt, you will need to know how to row
safely along the narrow and crowded waters because punting is not easy. Here are some
rowing techniques to learn for your next self-punt to ensure safety for everybody on board.
Please note we no longer offer self hire punting tours.
Rowing Style for Punting in Cambridge
The most basic technique for punting in Cambridge is to push the boat along with the quant, which
is the long pole you will be using while shoving it directly against the riverbed.
The Cambridge tradition most punters use requires them to stand on the back of the boat and punt forward
with the open end.
The River Cam is narrow and very crowded full of punts, but you will see
most chauffeurs using this style, which is known as the “Cambridge End.”
Rowing Technique for Beginners
When you have a firm grip on the quant, stand near the back or “Till.” It would be best to
position yourself closest to the side as much as balance allows as you look over the side of the
Using your forward hand, push the pole down vertically close to the side of your punt and
guide it with your lower hand. Let the quant fall down all the way until you feel it touch the
bottom of the riverbed, and then reach forward with both hands by gently pushing the pole
past your chest.
It is essential to be gentle for the first time so that you can control your
steering. When you complete each stroke, relax your muscles and let the pole float upwards
behind you like a rudder. This relaxation habit after each stroke will prevent you from falling
over if the quant gets stuck unexpectedly.
We see a lot of people fall in whilst punting in Cambridge for the first time!
Rowing Technique for Experienced Punters
Instead of using the quant as a rudder, more experienced punters will steer during their
strokes. They do this by standing forward further and stay close to one side of the punt. If they
want to turn the boat in the direction they are facing, they throw the pole close to the punt and
pull it towards them. This type of stroke is known as “Pinching” the punt. To face the other way,
they throw the pole slightly further out and pull their feet towards it. This style is called
Some Cambridge punters with a lot of experience might also use a one-
handed technique, which is more challenging. The one-handed method requires a punter to
throw the pole forward instead of pulling up, which is a “Bucket recovery.”
The advantage of doing this is so the punter can drop their pole directly onto the riverbed at an angle facing their position without slowing momentum.
The pole is in a vertical position, and pressure is applied to steer the punt. This style is beneficial if you want more power in fast-flowing streams or if
the punt is already racing.