There’s no better way to see the city of Cambridge than by punt. Cambridge has a very long history of punting. It’s been a part of Cambridge life from the 1800s right up until the present day and as a result, it’s a must-do for visitors.
It regularly tops the poll for the best experiences in Cambridge, and for good reason. As well as giving you a great view of the city’s most famous and beautiful sights, it’s an activity that’s fun and won’t be forgotten any time soon.
Before you hit the River Cam you may want to read our first time punting guide…
Position yourself – the Cambridge way
If you’re serious about punting like a local, there’s one rule that should never be broken. We’ll let Reading the Book Travel reveal all:
“The two ends of a punt are not identical. One end has a large, flat platform, and it is here that the punter stands. This is also the back end of the boat; your passengers are at the front. Don’t be tempted to stand inside the punt at the other end – that is the Oxford way, and not how things are done in Cambridge!”
Stand your ground
Once you’ve identified the right end to stand at, it’s time to work on your stance. Everyone has a wobble the first time they stand up on the platform or deck. To keep wobbles to a minimum, and stay nice and dry, adopt a wide stance and bend your knees.
Don’t be too rigid with your stance. The boat will rock gently, but embracing this movement is the key to achieving balance and stability.
Find your angle
Find your preferred punting side – the side where you’ll place that long pole – and position your foot closer to this side to offset the weight of the pole. There’s no right or wrong side, it’s just whichever side is more comfortable for you. Generally, right-handed people find the right side easier to punt on.
The first push is always the most difficult when punting. But once you find your rhythm, they’ll be no stopping you!
Steering your punt forward is as simple as lifting the pole out of the water and slowly sliding it through your hands until it hits the river bed. Walk your hands back up the pole to keep moving. To turn your punt, use the pole as a rudder, swinging it to the right to turn right and vice versa.
Stopping your punt is a little harder. Most aim to come to a natural stop but if you do need to apply the emergency brakes, lift and slide the pole into the water at an angle that’s forward from your position and apply pressure.
Whichever direction you’re heading, be sure to hang onto that pole, punting without it is the ultimate rookie mistake!