Punting Down the River Cam

We all had high hopes of attending Harry and Meghan’s Royal Wedding, but nonetheless we were all very excited to spend a relaxing morning on the River Cam. This was our last adventure before heading to London for the second half of our trip. When we first read the itinerary, most of our group imagined that we would be perfecting our football skills on this Saturday morning, but much to our surprise this form of “punting” required a flat boat and a stick to drive a boat through the water.

Punting is very popular throughout Cambridge and is commonly seen in romantic movies, where a little boat is driven through beautiful archways and underneath low hanging willow branches. Our tour guides and drivers, Alex and Hugo were expert drivers and did a wonderful job explaining the history of the buildings we drove past and describing unique features to the city. Along our boat trip, we passed seven colleges, all of which have their own punting boats for their students to have a stress relief activity. This is definitely something the University of Minnesota should consider for us college students!

The River Cam is about chest deep in most parts of the city, which makes it an ideal location for punting. For most people, it takes about three weeks to learn how to effectively punt and steer a boat on the river. Both Alex and Hugo explained that they have often had proposals on their boat tours because it is such a romantic and beautiful location. We got to thinking that Harry and Meghan should have gotten engaged here! Along the riverside, we were directed to identify a peculiar plant that was growing. It was a banana plant that was the result of a collegiate contest to see who could grow a successful banana outside of a greenhouse. Cambridge University won the honor, but the banana was only about three inches long, green, and poisonous. 

Once we reached the halfway point in our river adventure, we each got to try our hand at punting. It was a challenge to handle the lengthy pole, avoid falling overboard, try not to drop it in the water, and also keep the boat moving forward in a semi-straight path. At one point, two boats were coming in very fast towards our boats and bumped into us. Hugo, our guide, almost went overboard but was able to save himself just in time! For the most part, everyone did a great job punting, but we decided we should leave the professional punting to the experts. Especially since we were already tired, and they make about 5-7 trips up and down the river each day, rounding out to about 14 miles of punting each day.

Word of the Day: “Mooring” means boat parking on the river. There were locations with signs that read, “No Mooring.” This essentially means that there is no parking on the river in that location.


Macie & Maggie



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