Punting in Cambridge has been on my list for a few years, so in our rental car we headed north out of London. We drove into Cambridge under blue skies with the biggest, whitest billowing clouds. It was a stunning day, and thankfully not as hot. I don’t know how we do it, but if we go to England in summer, we always seem to hit the hottest, most miserably humid days. We had been sweating profusely the whole time we’d been there, and this particular day, the weather gods gave us the most beautiful day, so I didn’t want to just walk around Cambridge. I wanted to punt.
Punting is boating with a flat-bottomed boat by using a long pole and pushing off the bottom. I really wanted to try, although in all fairness, I expected Jim and the girls to do most of the work. The problem was, no one was renting out boats. Maybe we just didn’t find the right place. Maybe they took one look at us and thought there was no way they would rent to novice boaters. Whatever the reason, we were unsuccessful renting a punt, so we had to take one of the tours where they put eight people in a boat and a driver, or chauffeur, does all the work for you. I was a little disappointed, but I did want to see the universities and ride the river, so we paid and jumped on.
A favorite pastime since 1902, there were plenty of people plying the river, and I could see why. The views from the river Cam are splendid; the magnificent architecture of the college buildings and bridges, as well as the views of the manicured lawns leading up to them are stunning. We loved just sitting back and relaxing with great views all around us. Our guide told us a little about each college building, famous people, especially royalty, but I liked it better when it was just quiet.
Our tour lasted just under and hour, and we enjoyed it, even though it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. We’d gone before lunch, though, so we made haste to find a restaurant that wasn’t packed before all the other tourists got hungry. We chose to have some sandwiches at the Russell House Tavern on Harvard Square, mainly because we were looking for some Eton Mess for dessert and they had one on their menu.
After lunch, the punts on the river seemed to quadruple. I’m glad we chose to do ours pretty early. We walked around Cambridge taking in the sights, visiting the market, and just having a great day.
Have you been punting in Cambridge?
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