What a splendid day our trip to Cambridge turned out to be. Cambridge, as everyone is well aware, is famed as the most prestigious university in the world… but I never realised what a big affair ‘punting’ was.
As you can see from the pic below, the punter stands at the back of the boat and propels it forward by pushing the pole against the river bed.
Clearly it takes a bit of skill and a good sense of balance is paramount. Many a would-be punter have taken a plunge into the Cam as we had the opportunity to witness!
The rather grand looking building in the picture above by the way is the chapel of Kings College. It was commissioned by King Henry VI in 1446, has the largest fan vault (a kind of Gothic style ceiling) in the world and is a resplendent example of fine medieval stained glass.
Visitors to Cambridge should be wary of the touts in busy tourist areas such as King’s Parade, selling river tours at slightly inflated prices. Much better to do as we did and make your own way down to the quay on Silver Street or at Trinity College.
And it’s also worth mentioning that whilst the most popular and must-do trip is upstream to take in the wonderful view of the bridges and colleges of this beautiful town, the trip downstream takes in some particularly beautiful and tranquil countryside as it approaches the village of Grantchester.
No doubt the most beautiful bridge traversed on the river tour is the Bridge of Sighs. Named after a similar covered bridge in Venice, legend has it the ‘sighs’ are of students who cross it on their way to sit examinations or more romantically, the gasps of admiration that it draws from all who see it.