What is Punting?
Punting is a Dutch word to ‘Push’ but there are other theories as to where the name comes from. Previously this was a way of transporting produce to mills along The Backs but now it’s simply a leisure activity.
There are plenty of punting companies to choose from so we have summarised them as best we can below:
Cambridge Blue Punting – This is a relatively new operation but with good well established people behind it. They don’t tout at all and they use single punts. They primarily undertake private tours but also arrange shared tours. You can even do self hire through these guys.
Tel: 01223 366 868
Large punting companies
Other punting companies
Things to know
There are lots of punting companies and some are better than others.
Understand what you are buying. A shared tour means you are in a very large ‘ferry’ punt with probably 16 other passengers all talking amongst themselves in different languages. These are typically between £15 and £12per person. If a tout is offering you a lower price it usually means a lower quality service.
Private Tours are the way to see the river really. Larger punting operators will charge as much as £90 for a 45minute tour, but we have found a longer better tour for less.
The middle river, which includes The Backs where the majority of tours take place runs from the Mill Pond to Jesus Green. It makes sense to take a tour from either end making a return loop rather than going from Garrett Hostel Bridge (which will be illegal to operate from come April 2012), which is half way along the river and do a tour in two halves.
Touting is a serious problem in Cambridge in many peoples eyes. Touting can be very lucrative so there are lots of them. If you are walking around with a camera round your neck you are fair game. Just say ‘no thanks’ and they shouldn’t bother you any further. Our recommendation is to book a tour in advance with a reputable company and plan your day around the appointment. This way you will feel secure that you’ve got a tour booked and you wont have to entertain touts.
Self hire is a great thing to do. The cheapest place on the river to hire a punt is from Trinity College itself (http://www.trin.cam.ac.uk/index.php?pageid=664). Go through the black gates on Garrett Hostel Lane and walk round to the river. It’s not easy to find but it’s only £14per hour. This is of course half way along The Backs so actually it is best to hire a punt from say Jesus Green to punt up and back. It’s not as easy as it looks and bring a change of cloths if you’re on a day trip because you don’t want to be sitting on the train soaking wet!
You can punt along The Backs, which is apart of the middle river OR you can also punt along the upper river, which is actually known as the Granta towards the village of Grantchester. The Backs is the main tourist attraction so if this is what you’re after make sure you book it and not the Grantchester Tour. A punting tour to Grantchester is also lovely but a bit more expensive and takes a lot longer. It is much more peaceful.