You cannot have a real stay in Cambridge without enjoying a bit of punting. It’s like having the scone without the jam and cream; simply unthinkable!
To cement your visit a punt along the River Cam is highly recommended, and don’t worry, you don’t have to be a pro at punting. Luckily in Cambridge, there are many ways you can experience punting, from self-hire punts for those who want to give it a go themselves, to private tours where you can sit back and relax.
No matter what your taste or style, punting is quintessentially Cambridge, and we can guarantee that once you’ve tried it, you’ll want to try it again.
A Brief History
Punting boats were originally used as cargo boats by fishermen and tradesmen in the Fens. As the punts were flat bottomed, their shape provided stability and even weight distribution, ideal for use in the shallow fenland waters.
Punting for leisure began on the River Thames in the 1860s, and then introduced to Cambridge as a pleasure hobby at the start of the 20th century. As commercial river traffic began to die out, punting on the river Cam became more popular with locals taking out their crafts for a punt and a picnic.
The only thing that ever stops the punting is the weather, and even that is at a push.
Punting can be done most of the year-round in Cambridge, but we highly recommend it during those beautiful spring and summer months.
The punting journey in Cambridge can take you on two routes, so we’ve revealed exactly what you can expect to see when going on a punting experience.
Punting Along Cambridge Colleges
Cambridge Colleges provide a grand backdrop to this punting experience, and if you’ve got a love for architecture and history then this particular route will be a favourite.
Known as the College Backs, this punting route takes you down 1.6km of the river Cam behind Cambridge’s most beautiful buildings. This includes King’s College Chapel, the Bridge of Sigh’s, and the Wren Library.
If you get a group or private punting experience you will also have a guide who will tell you many fascinating stories about the buildings and some of the well-known local stories.
From this route, you will also get to see some of the private gardens and lawns of these colleges which have also featured in many films and TV adaptations in Cambridge.
Without a doubt, this is by far the most popular punting route in Cambridge as it offers such a scenic display of Cambridge. We highly recommend you take your camera.
Punting To Grantchester Meadows
For a real punting trip that gives you a full day out, punting to Grantchester is one of the most idyllic ways to get the most out of the experience.
More peaceful and less touristy than the College Backs route, this tour takes you through fenland, woods, and meadows to the picturesque village of Grantchester south of Cambridge, which was once the home of First World War poet, Ruper Brooke.
The punt will take you up towards Grantchester village and takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes. Once you have guided up the river you will see Sheep’s Green, Paradise Nature Reserve, Grantchester Meadows, Grantchester Village, and Grantchester Tea Orchard Gardens (the perfect stop off for a scone with clotted cream and jam).
For those of you who enjoy getting in amongst nature and taking things at a slow pace, this trip is perfect for just sitting back and embracing the scenery. It is also a better route for those that want to practice punting themselves.
Many of these tours also include light nibbles, but one way to get the most out of the experience is to be dropped off in Grantchester Village to visit the local pubs and eateries, before heading back on the punt to Cambridge.
Whether you’re giving the punt a go yourself with friends and family, or taking a slow guided tour, punting really provides the best of both worlds no matter how you’re feeling.
When staying in one of our serviced apartments in Cambridge please don’t hesitate to ask us for recommendations about punting and experiences in Cambridge.