News - Cambridge River Tours


Cambridge in the Snow

This week has seen Cambridge transformed from an already beautiful city into a Narnia-esque winter wonderland, in quite unseasonable fashion (the 1st of March is meant to be the start of spring!). The so-called 'Beast from the East' weather front arrived with a vengeance, bringing with it icy winds, sub-zero temperatures and, for many parts of the UK, quite a lot of snow. Monday morning (Feb 26th), Cambridge was looking like this, cold but beautiful and sunny, and apart from the temperature it definitely felt like spring was just around the corner: St John's Street before winter came back with a vengeance We managed to film this footage later the same day, of when the snow first arrived in Cambridge. The three clips were shot within the space of perhaps half an hour, showing how quickly it went from a few flakes, to some light flurries, to what felt like an absolute blizzard! Our European cousins, and those across the pond in Canada and the USA, who regularly experience and cope with far worse conditions during their winters, were undoubtedly looking on with bemusement. The UK was plunged into a frenzy of rolling news coverage about the snow, panic-buying in supermarkets, road closures, school closures, cancellation of sporting events and flights, and so on. Of course, it didn't stop the intrepid and hardy from going punting: Is it the novelty of snow that makes us both so fascinated by it and simultaneously unable to cope with it? The fact that it happens so infrequently does mean that we don't really have the infrastructure to deal with it. Most of us don't have the clothes or the driving skills to make the [...]

Cambridge in the Snow2018-03-03T15:20:54+00:00

E-luminate 2018

Yes, it's back. Cambridge's E-luminate Love Light festival returns to light up the city for its 6th year. We went along to check out the installations on the opening evening - Friday night. The festival runs until Weds 14th Feb, which handily coincides with half term if you've got kids (and even if you don't) and ends on Valentines day, so might make for a nice romantic wander either before or after you go for dinner. The Guildhall lit up shortly after the official switch on of the lights on Friday The opening ceremony was held at the Cambridge Guildhall, which is also one of the displays again this year. The mayor of Cambridge was there to officially give his blessing to the festival, before pressing the big red button (not sure if there actually was a button?). There was a modest crowd gathered to see the opening ceremony (to be fair, it was really cold on Friday and if memory serves last year was very cold too) and a cheer went up when the lights were switched on, cycling through each of the seven colours in turn until eventually showing each at once. The Guildhall and market square The theme this year is the rainbow flag, as the festival also coincides with LGBTQ History month. There was a parade of lit up bicycles who did a few laps around the market square before heading off into town. I'm not sure if they were heading off around the streets to try to drum up more interest, or just heading home at that point. There are seven installations this year, dotted around the city centre. Easily the biggest and most eye catching [...]

E-luminate 20182018-02-11T10:58:19+00:00

19 Reasons to Visit Cambridge this Year

It's February and it's cold outside. January is finally over after feeling like it might have been twice as long as a standard month. We've made it through Blue Monday but you're still 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 2018 Happening again, really soon is the e-Luminate Cambridge festival. If you're not sure what that is, check out our blog post from 2016's festival and you can now read our blog post on the 2018 Love light festival. This year it's on during February half term; find out more details from e-Luminate's website at Senate House lit up as part of the 2017 E-luminate festival 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 really amazing whatever time of year it is. Plus, in the winter it's much quieter, there are no pesky leaves on the trees to obscure the view and the light is great for taking photos. 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 [...]

19 Reasons to Visit Cambridge this Year2018-03-24T10:41:19+00:00

Our favourite Trip Advisor reviews of 2017

We love it when people leave us Trip Advisor reviews. All of them. Even the ones that aren’t wholly accurate. We know that good Trip Advisor reviews can have a massive impact on buying decisions, and we're really proud of our Certificate of Excellence. If you've not yet left us a review, please do - it'll make us smile. A lot. It wasn't easy putting together our list of our favourites from 2017, but we got there eventually. Here's our standout five Trip Advisor reviews:   1. The one who loves the same things that we do: Just to clarify – it’s called ‘Punting’ but we’re not going to let a typo get in the way of sharing a great review. These are exactly the reasons we love punting too – if you want a day conflating the twin pursuits of bringing history to life with watching people fall off boats, our boat tours are made for you. 2. The one that turned out to be from a different city altogether: This one started so strong. Matt’s great! He’s really friendly! And funny, he’s funny too. And so good at his job. Not only that but the other people on the trip enjoyed it too. This is marvellous stuff. We were all set to give Matt a rise until we looked at the pics provided by the reviewer and realised that they’d been to Canterbury, not Cambridge, and we definitely don’t work in Canterbury. It's gorgeous though - maybe we should set up there?   3. The one who doesn’t know about the ‘other place’: Most of this review is spot on. Punting on the Cam is indeed traditional. Our tours are fantastic, and our guides [...]

Our favourite Trip Advisor reviews of 20172018-01-05T18:17:32+00:00

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 review2018-03-24T10:45:52+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 Bridges2018-03-05T15:57:15+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. There are seven Cambridge University colleges situated along the Backs. Going from North to South: Magdalene College St John's College Trinity College Trinity Hall Clare College King's College Queens' College Just beyond Silver Street bridge at the Southern end of the Backs is Darwin College. 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 previously mentioned colleges. 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 [...]

The Cambridge Backs2018-01-29T14:02:48+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 future2017-04-02T10:16:09+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?2018-03-24T10:48:37+00:00