A punt is a type of English flat-bottomed, river boat used nowadays for leisure and racing. (It was originally created in the mid-1800s to transport cargo.) The college towns of Cambridge and Oxford are the primary punting areas in England. Punters propel a punt with poles, which they push against a river bed. This, of course, requires shallow water so that the poles can reach the bottom of the river. Cambridge and Oxford both happen to enjoy a river running through town that offers perfect punting conditions!
Punting is famously popular with Oxbridge students—but tourist can partake of the fun too. If you visit either town on a pleasant day—and don’t mind the possibility of getting splashed, or in a worse-case scenario, drenched—then I strongly encourage you to join the fun and rent a punt. The adventurous can punt the boat themselves, and the less adventurous can rent a punter or go on a group tour. Either way, you’ll hear much laughter and merriment while on the river in town and tranquility as you drift away from town, along rural green spaces. Often, the punting crowd will stop at a pub before the return trip—or bring along picnic food and drinks. (Champagne or a summer Pimms is always popular.)
Note: Oxford and Cambridge, always rivals, each have their own style of punting--characterized by where the punter stands and how the punt is positioned). Of course, each considers the other’s style “bad form.”
You can find numerous Punt outfitters in both Oxford and Cambridge. You might give these a try:
- The Cherwell Boat House CLICK
Happy punting! Don’t forget your sunscreen!
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