Punting Archives - Cambridge River Tours

Punting

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

Taking a punt on the future

**The article below was published on 1st April 2017 as an April fools. Entirely coincidentally, Gonville and Caius college, of Cambridge, also had a very similar idea for their joke on that day, although we can't say whether they got their inspiration from us, we definitely didn't get ours from them. However, we did subsequently discover that Oxford University had beaten us to it by two years!** In a bold move, precipitated by growing concerns voiced by a number of the Cambridge University colleges about the noise pollution caused by punt poles grating along the cement bed of the river Cam, punting stalwart Cambridge River Tours has announced the introduction of the self-driving punt (not to be confused with self-hire punts). Top Secret! The announcement is the culmination of a top secret, two-year R&D project, part-funded by the Cam Conservators. Working in collaboration with Google to make use of their self-driving car technology, CRT will soon launch the first wave of noiseless, self propelled punts from their Jesus Green punt station. Proprietor Tim Campbell explains: "This technology heralds a new dawn of silent punting; our chauffeurs will be transitioning to new roles as Actualisation of Customer Experience (ACE) reps. This mean that tour groups will still benefit from the vast knowledge our chauffeurs have built up over the years; but instead of being precariously perched on the punt deck, dodging the champagne corks (and advances) of raucous hens and the like, they'll be live-streaming their patter whilst nursing an expertly made flat white. "Collisions will also be a thing of the past, as the technology will allow the punts to choose the safest and most efficient path along the river, paving the way for an immediate [...]

Taking a punt on the future 2017-04-02T10:16:09+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

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