Relaxing Break

personaltouronline punting tipsAs many ex Cambridge University students may tell you, there are few things which are as relaxing as sitting in a punt on the slow-moving Cam River whilst being gently punted down viewing the sights on the river banks. Unfortunately though, apart from a few punts still existing in Oxford, Stratford, and Canterbury, Cambridge is the only main punting venue left in England although at one time, punting was a popular past time throughout the country. As it is one of the few places left in the country where people can enjoy the relaxation of punting, Cambridge receives visitors seeking only that one pleasure and information about the different hunting opportunities available in Cambridge today can be found online at

Although a punt is an ideal vessel for a leisurely float down a river, they were not actually designed for that purpose. What a punt was designed for was to transfer a fisherman’s catch from their fishing vessel to the shore, over the shallower waters. They were designed for use on the River Thames in London but because of their flat bottoms giving them the capability to carry heavy loads over shallow waters, they became popular working vessels throughout the country including on the Fens, north of Cambridge. The building of docks and wharfs though meant that soon there was no more use for a punt as a working craft, however, by that time people had realized their great use as a leisure craft and so they remained popular throughout the country for their new purpose. Apart from Cambridge and one or two other places in the country though, the punt’s popularity as a leisure craft was also short-lived.

The English punt has often been referred to as being similar to the Venetian gondola and although they are similar in so far as they are both, today, used primarily as leisure craft and both are powered by a pole, where their similarities end. The punt is oblong shaped with a flat bottom and square corners whilst a Venetian gondola is more oval shaped with pointed ends. Both are powered by someone pushing the craft along by use of a pole which in the case of the punts, is 15’ long. Although the pole is used to power the craft along the slow running waters, it is also the craft’s only means of steering and so may not be quite as easy to use as most people may at first think. It does not take long to learn though and so any visitor may rent a punt without any special training.

Although many visitors to Cambridge opt to rent a punt and operate the pole themselves, many others opt for a punting tour. This is a tour by means of a punt but when rented, the pu8nt is complete with a pole man or guide. As the pole man powers the punt through the waters of the Cam River as it flows through Cambridge, they give an oratory on the places which are passed.