Punting or Being Punted

A question which faces many visitors to the University City of Cambridge is as to whether they should opt to rent a punt and operate it themselves or instead, opt for a punting tour. Even though the 15’ poles are also used for steering the punt as well as powering it, it is easy to learn and so many visitors decide to punt themselves leisurely down the river. Those visitors though that prefer to just lie back and let someone else do the work, can also do that. The visitors to Cambridge that choose the second option will often find that their punter is a university student making some extra money during their break in classes.

Despite whether or not your punter on a punting tour in Cambridge is a student or not, they will always offer descriptions of the history of the buildings you float past on the river bank, expanding your knowledge of this world famous University City which, along with Oxford, are often considered to be the home of best universities in the world and are undoubtedly two of the world’s best known University Cities.

Punts, unlike the gondolas of Venice, are oblong in shape with square corners and flat bottoms and were specifically designed like that so that they could carry large loads across shallow waters. First designed for use on the River Thames in London in order to help fishermen more easily get their catch ashore, the punt became a popular working craft all around the country, including to the north of Cambridge of the shallow waters of the Fens.

AS development of the river banks made it easier for larger vessels to get alongside the shore, the usefulness of the punt as a cargo vessel diminished, however, by the time that occurred they had become well-known as excellent leisure craft. The punt, therefore, enjoyed a second life all over the country as a craft used for leisure purposes but that too was short lived. Today punts can be found providing people with leisurely trips along rivers in Canterbury, Stratford and Oxford, as well as Cambridge but nowhere else, are they as prolific as Punting in Cambridge which has become famous for their punts and punting.

Before visitors came to Cambridge to enjoy punting the city already enjoyed a healthy number of visitors due to it being a famous University City, along with Oxford, perhaps one of the most famous university cities in the world. These two great university cities in England are renowned for their rivalry and that rivalry can be most clearly seen at one of England’s premier sporting events; the University Boat Race. This is an annual event which is watched by thousands along the banks of the River Thames in London where the event takes place and millions more watch on their TV screens. Although not a particularly high price, financially is at stake, bragging rights for the year are and that alone makes the race one of the most prestigious prizes available in the country today.

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