Punting tours in Cambridge are very popular with tourists or any other visitor to the famous University City. In fact Cambridge punt tours are almost the only place left in the country that does tours by punt although, at one time, punting was popular throughout the country. Other locations where punts can still be seen include the other famous University City, Oxford as well as Stratford and Canterbury even though the punt was first introduced in London as a method of getting the fishermen’s catches through the shallow waters of the River Thames, to the shore, punts are rarely now seen on the Thames in London.
Punts in Cambridge today can either be hired where you would have to pole the punt yourself or, punting tours are offered which allow you to relax and enjoy the view of the colleges and other buildings which line the River Cam. When opting for a punting tour, often the guide, who is also the punter, is a college student earning extra money in their spare time but regardless of whom they are, they will offer you an oratory about the history of the different buildings as you pass them.
Famous colleges of course line some of the river banks but what is more interesting to many visitors are the equally famous bridges which students use to cross from one part of a college to another. There are nine of these bridges in total, one of which is a road whilst the others are purely pedestrian or may be used by cycles as well. Although most of the bridges are replacements for the original ones, they usually stand on the same site as those originals and have a history of their own besides that of their predecessors.
One of the bridges crossing the River Cam on the tour is the Bridge of Sighs which although having the same name as the more famous Bridge of Sighs in Venice, looks nothing like the Italian bridge. The similarities between Cambridge and Venice, some say, do not end there though as those people also point out that punts and the gondolas of Venice are very similar. These people though are only right up to a point as although both a punt and a gondola are powered by pole power, it is perhaps there that their similarities end. A punt is oblong in shape with square corners at the front and back whilst the gondola is canoe shaped with pointed ends. The punt also has a flat bottom which a gondola does not.
Although it is relatively easy to pole a punt, many first-timers didn’t realize that the pole is also the only means of steering the punt as well as powering it and so have a more difficult task than they had originally thought. The pants though are meant to just meander down the river, not going fast at all and so they are relatively easy to handle and can offer a very relaxing ride up and down the calm waters of the river.