Punting in Cambridge is probably something every Cambridge University graduate will remember with mixed feeling but it is something of a unique experience for any tourists that visit the city and those, for the most part, will remember the punting with only fond memories. Although punting has been a far more popular past time in the past, today apart from Cambridge, it can only be enjoyed in a few other places in the country, perhaps only oxford, Canterbury and Stratford but it is none the less enjoyable for those that can do it.
The punt which is a flat bottomed boat with square corners making it oblong in shape was first used as a working boat on the River Thames in London and also as a working boat in areas of shallow waters like the Fens North of Cambridge. Whilst still being a working boat, people started to also use punts as leisure boats allowing them to smoothly and gently cruise through the waters to provide relaxation. As the uses of the punt dwindled as a working boat, its popularity grew as a leisure boat until the only punts in the country were those used for leisure purposes. Today there are several places in the country, Cambridge, Oxford, Stratford and Canterbury where you can hire a punt for a very relaxing experience.
Of all these places that still do rent out punts, it is probably Cambridge which is best known for punting and it has in fact become a tourist attraction for the city. This in turn means that the city enforces certain rules and regulations concerning punting to ensure that it maintains its reputation as a relaxing tourist attraction. The punts do not just cater to the needs of tourists though as probably most of the city’s university students will spend at least one day relaxing on a punt and some may even seek part time employment as guides on them. The website www.puntcambridge.co.uk mentions many of the different activities you can enjoy on a punt but the most common two are either renting a punt and punting it yourself or taking one of the many punting tours on offer.
For those that opt to punt themselves, they soon learn that although it may be easy to power the punt, it is perhaps a little trickier to steer it with the same 15’ pole. For those that opt to take one of the guided tours, they are in for a completely relaxing break as the punter, who also acts as a guide informing you of all the different buildings you pass and their uses, you relax and enjoy the smooth and slow cruise along Cambridge’s Cam river.
Perhaps not as famous as the gondola of Venice, a Cambridge punt tour can be just as relaxing and perhaps also very informative about the city of Cambridge and its growth to become one of the most famed cities in the world for its universities which to many are considered among the best in the world.