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Punting in Cambridge or Gawking at Intellectual Greatness

Punting in Cambridge has been a favorite pastime since 1902, and there were plenty of people plying the river, so we rented one and have a blast.

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 in Cambridge under the Bridge of Sighs.
The Bridge of Sighs
This is where you rent a boat and poler for punting.
Taking off!
Coming up on one of the many bridges.
Clare Bridge

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.

Trinity college tower.
Trinity College
Darwin College.
Darwin College

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.

Punters stopping for some lunch.

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.

Punting near King's College.
King’s College

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.

King's College.
King’s College

Our tour lasted just under an 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.

Beautiful flowers line the Thames.

Other Articles on England

Eton Mess.

After our typical British 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.

Beautiful architecture and bridge while punting on the water in Cambridge.

Have you been punting in Cambridge?

Author Bio: Corinne Vail is a travel photographer, food lover, and a perpetual traveler who has been travel writing for over 14 years. For many years she lived overseas in Germany, Japan, Turkey, South Korea, and the Netherlands teaching the children of the US. military. She’s visited over 90 countries, and she’s not stopping anytime soon.

Wouldn't it be fun to rent a punt and head down the Thames? Find out how.


Wednesday 1st of March 2017

What beautiful place you show us in your blog. Great article and photos, too

Corinne Vail

Wednesday 1st of March 2017

Thank you!

Rhonda Sachs Albom

Thursday 23rd of February 2017

I visited and walked around Cambridge but going by boat holds a definite appeal.

Corinne Vail

Thursday 23rd of February 2017

Rhonda, It was a really nice, peaceful and pretty ride.


Monday 20th of February 2017

beautiful photos! I tried punting, it's so difficult:)

Corinne Vail

Tuesday 21st of February 2017

Tanja, I'll try it some day!