Cambridge’s Unique Activity

Although punting was once a popular activity throughout the UK, in later years Cambridge has become more and more unique for still offering on a regular basis, punt rental or even guided punt tours. Cambridge punt tours are available for tourists and these are where a punt is rented, complete with a punter to power the craft with a 15’ pole. As you quietly move along the river, the punter will give oration about most of the buildings you pass on the river bank. Many of these ‘guides’ are students from one of Cambridge’s famous universities, possibly trying to earn money for the next semester’s exams.

Although it is still possible to rent a punt in other places, such as Oxford, Stratford, and Canterbury, none of these locations is it as popular as it is in Cambridge where some tourists come purely for the hunting experience. In this respect Cambridge punting can perhaps be likened to the Gondolas of Venice but there the similarities end. A punt, unlike a gondola, has a flat bottom and is oblong in shape with square corners at the front and back. A gondola, on the other hand, is more oval in shape with pointed front and rear. Both, of course, are though powered by a 15’ pole, pushing against the bottom of the shallow waterways.

Although it is fairly easy to move the punt along the slow flowing waters of the Cam River, it is perhaps a little more tricky steering the punt with the same pole however, even this does not need special classes or skills and can be quickly picked up and so no special license is needed to rent a punt, even if you want to power it yourself. Any group renting a punt though would have to have a volunteer to be the unit’s power and so many groups opt for a tour which enables all of them to relax and enjoy the views the river banks offer.

Of course, though, punts are not the only river going craft which Cambridge is famous for as they are also famous for their rowing boats which take part in the annual University Boat Race held on the River Thames in London. The boat race is where the universities of Cambridge and Oxford go head to head in a race along the river, in order to claim bragging rights for the year ahead. This race or event, which takes place annually, has become one of the country’s premier sporting events with thousands of spectators lining the river banks and millions more watching the race on their televisions.

As many of Cambridge’s University students, past or present will attest to, there are few activities as relaxing and restful as sitting quietly in a punt as you meander along the slow-moving waters of a river such as that of the River Cam in Cambridge. Many a student has taken the opportunity of the relaxation to study quietly for soon upcoming exams.

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