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Our 2017 in review

First of all, we absolutely promise that this isn't a copy paste of last year's review, with a few things changed. We definitely wouldn't do that to you. Secondly, we know that the year hasn't actually finished yet, but, seriously, not much happens at this time of year, does it? Ok, let's get on with it... Wow, what a year 2016 2017 was. In years to come, with the benefit of hindsight and water under the bridge (no pun intended), I'm sure that we'll all look back on 2017 and cry. Or laugh. Or maybe cry with laughter... But for now, let's take a look back on this year's highs and lows. Not necessarily in reverse chronological order (or in any kind of order really), not necessarily all to do with punting, and not all of them necessarily directly related to us. Some of it maybe a little bit political. All of them definitely necessary. Maybe. Think of this as a shorter, almost as funny, more Cambridgey version of Charlie Brooker's annual review... (yes, we are available for TV work). We were awarded another Trip Advisor certificate of excellence (hurrah, two years in a row!). On that note, if you have been punting with us and haven't left us a review, we would very much appreciate it if you could. We have lots of customers every year but not many of you leave us reviews and our competitors are overtaking us in the listings. That makes us sad. Check it out and click the logo to be taken to our listing: We wrote our 19 reasons to visit Cambridge in 2017; a blog post that literally went viral (not sure about the use of literally [...]

Our 2017 in review 2017-12-08T17:02:22+00:00

Cambridge Bridges

You could be forgiven for thinking that punting along the river Cam is just about seeing the Cambridge colleges and hearing stories about student antics. However, to do that would be to ignore the 9 (yes nine!) Cambridge bridges that cross the river, along the Backs. Honourable mention for Jesus Green footbridge and lock - the end of the middle river Admittedly, some of these bridges are more famous, more interesting, or just prettier than the others. We're going to tell you about all of them, from one end of the river to the other (ok, not the whole of the river Cam, just the middle river, which is the bit that we punt along). *Warning - may contain spoilers* - you'll almost certainly hear some of this information if you come on one of our Cambridge punt tours, so look away now if you don't want to know. Still here? Ok, settle in, this could be a long ride... (don't worry though, there are lots of pictures). Magdalene Bridge First up we have Magdalene (pronounced maudlin) bridge. This road bridge is at one end (the start as far as we are concerned) of the Backs, on Magdalene street and next to the college of the same name. Not the most exciting bridge to look at: Not so great any more? However, it is notable for: being on the site of (or very close to) the original crossing point over the river Cam on the Roman road that linked London (to the south) with the north and was part of an important trade route. The current, cast iron construction was built in 1892, designed by Arthur Browne, then rebuilt in 1982 [...]

Cambridge Bridges 2017-12-08T10:28:30+00:00

The Cambridge Backs

Have you heard of the Cambridge Backs? Even if you have, do you know what (or where) they are? Well, never fear, we are here to assist, entertain (we hope) and enlighten. Clare college on the left, is the oldest college along the Cambridge backs The Cambridge Backs (or just the Backs for short) are an area of central Cambridge, along the banks of the river Cam, occupied by some of the most famous and prestigious colleges that form Cambridge University. St John's - one of the largest and wealthiest of the Cambridge colleges, as viewed from the grounds of Trinity college, its neighbour and rival. The backs, built on land reclaimed from what was effectively the flood plains of the river Cam, are now home to some eye-catching, inspiring, wonderful and in some cases, also rather famous examples of Cambridge architecture. Punting is a unique and relaxing way to view the Cambridge backs What's in a name? The name, 'the Backs' came about because this area was referred to as the backs of the colleges in question. The river wends its way through the grounds of a number of these renowned educational establishments. However in many cases there are now college buildings on either bank of the river. Nonetheless, the name has stood the test of time. As have the views. Queens' college so called Mathematical bridge, at one end of the backs, Cambridge, joins the two sides of the college together Outstanding scenery, amazing tranquility Yes, it's a cliché but the backs have to be seen to be believed. They are an area of outstanding beauty and (often) tranquillity in the heart of the bustling [...]

The Cambridge Backs 2017-11-11T17:22:46+00:00

Seriously Though, What is Punting?

That might seem like a strange question for us to be asking, and we will admit that we already know the answer but, do you? If you're a resident of Cambridge (or, dare we mention it, the other place), then you almost certainly know what punting is. If you're a sometime/regular visitor to this city and you've read our definitive history of punting then you should also already know (unless, of course, you have a terrible short term memory). However, if you have never been to Cambridge before, or perhaps have arrived at this website seeking answers to this very question, fear not because we are here to give you the answers. It's not sport related Let's get a couple of things sorted from the off - if you're an avid Superbowl or Australian rules football fan (no, we're not going to try to explain that to anyone), or someone who likes the occasional flutter on the horses you're probably in the wrong place. Punting is going to mean something entirely different to you. However, those discrepancies aside, if you've ever visited Cambridge, or live in the city, or have seen pictures of people gently propelling up and down the river Cam, you might have some sort of idea of what punts are in this context. These are punts It's got nothing to do with Venice We need to clear one thing up right away. Punts are NOT gondolas, nor do they bear more than a passing resemblance to them. There has, occasionally, been the odd ice-cream selling punt on the Cam (and we were responsible for one of those, but that's a story for another time) but, largely, they are very different [...]

Seriously Though, What is Punting? 2017-12-08T14:48:40+00:00

19 Reasons to Visit Cambridge in 2017

It's January, it's cold outside, you're filled with that post Christmas, pre-spring feeling where it seems like you might be trapped in a Narnia-esque eternal winter where the sun never shines again and nothing good will ever happen again... Well, stop that now. Here are a load of good reasons why you should visit Cambridge this year, starting now. 1. e-Luminate Festival 2017 Happening again, really soon is the e-Luminate Cambridge festival. If you're not sure what that is, check out our blog post from last year's festival. This year it's on during February half term; find out more details from e-Luminate's website at https://www.cambridgelivetrust.co.uk/e-luminate 2. Punting. Obvs Yeah, okay, so we'll hold our hands up to being a tiny bit biased on this one, but trust us, going for a boat ride along the river Cam is actually amazing whatever time of year it is. Plus, in the winter it's much quieter, so just wrap up warm, bring a Thermos and some thermals and you'll be sorted. For more information on going punting with us visit this page. 3. Cambridge is beautiful Again, you might accuse us of being a bit biased here, but trust us, we've done our research and visited 'the other place' and it's not a patch on Cambridge. Still don't believe us? Have a look at our gallery, or check out this video evidence for further proof: 4. The falling £ Let's face it, the last few months haven't been great for the value of the £ compared to other currencies. If you're from the UK, then the cost of going abroad has gone up and if you're from outside of the UK then the cost of visiting the UK [...]

19 Reasons to Visit Cambridge in 2017 2017-07-21T10:36:33+00:00

A brief history of punting. Part I

Trinity college punts moored under a tree If you've ever been punting before you'll have enjoyed one of the many narratives delivered by one of our talented punt chauffeurs. And if you've been punting more than once, you may have enjoyed an altogether different narrative, because such is the way with storytelling. History is a supple and fluid mistress, and in the hands of our chauffeurs she ebbs and flows with the tides of the Cam... (ok, technically the part of the river Cam we punt on isn't tidal any more but go with it). With this in mind, we thought it pertinent to bring you the definitive history of punting. Don't worry though, no spoilers here, we'll save the best river folklore for on board the punts... What is punting? A punt boat, more commonly known simply as a punt, is a square-ended boat that has a flat bottom with no keel. The normal method of propulsion is by using a 5m (16ft) long pole and literally pushing against the river bed. The pole is also used to steer, either as a tiller or rudder for gentle changes of direction, or by pushing off at an angle to the punt for more advanced manoeuvring. This method of propulsion is known as "punting". History of punting Punts were developed in medieval times to provide stable craft that could be used in areas of water too shallow for rowing conventional craft. One such area was the Fens, the marshy flatlands north of Cambridge, where punts were integral to local trades such as eel fishing, reed-cutting, fowling (hunting ducks, etc) and for transporting cargo, until their use died out in the late nineteenth century. The [...]

A brief history of punting. Part I 2017-12-08T14:35:33+00:00

What’s in a name?

Allow me to set the scene Back when we started out as independent punt operators, there were just two of us, each with our own boat, working together as a partnership. As time went by, we added more punts and, as a consequence, needed more people to work with us to help take the tours and find people to go on them. In those days, we jokingly referred to ourselves as 'Team Awesome' (yeah, I know - it might seem a bit cringe-worthy looking back on it but it seemed like a good idea at the time!). In those days, punting was still, largely, a summer activity, most operators ceased trading altogether during the winter, or ran a very limited service. It was during one of those winter breaks that I decided to build us a website to help promote our business and perhaps bring in some advance bookings. Whilst trying to find a suitable domain name (website address), I discovered that most of the ones with punting in Cambridge (or words to that effect) had already been taken. Looking back, had I been a little bit more imaginative, I might have been able to find something (e.g. our current website address www.puntcambridge.co.uk may have been available). However, I decided to take a different approach and got inspiration from our tout boards, which all had Cambridge River Tour written on them. Perfect, I thought. It's very 'Ronseal' it describes what we do and has the added advantage of making sense to people who have never actually heard of (at least in the context of Cambridge and boats) punting. I registered both the .co.uk and the .com domains and set about building a website (now on [...]

What’s in a name? 2016-10-21T09:43:42+00:00

An E-luminating Festival!

We all know that Cambridge is a great place to visit in the summer when the sun is (hopefully) shining, the days are long and the weather is balmy. But there are plenty of reasons to visit the city all year round. Every year for the last 4 years, the e-lumiate festival Cambridge has been showcasing some of Cambridge's most famous buildings in a new light (pun intended) and this year was no exception. With a number of installations around the city: Great St. Mary's Church; the University Library; Gonville & Caius college were just a few of the iconic locations lit up as part of the 2016 festival, held between 12th & 17th February. They say a picture tells a thousand words so here's video and some pictures we shot on the last night of the festival. You can see a few more on our instagram feed and also on the gallery page. Senate House, Cambridge during e-luminate 2016   Make sure you keep a window in your diary for next year.

An E-luminating Festival! 2017-12-08T15:33:51+00:00