There are many cities around the country or in fact around the world that have their own claim to fame, such as Christ the Redeemer in Rio, the Pyramids in Cairo or the Gondola rides in Venice. These are features which are unique to those cities and although some may have become famous worldwide, others have unique qualities or features which are not quite so well-known. Cambridge is one of the latter as although it perhaps have its one claim to fame, it may not be known of all around the world and that feature which makes it unique is its punting.
Cambridge punting is well-known within the UK but perhaps not so well-known about elsewhere but is and has been a unique feature of Cambridge for many years now. Although other places in the UK once also featured punting, even those places that still do, like Oxford, Canterbury and Stratford did not or has not received the attention the Cambridge punting has.
When people first think of Rio, Cairo or Venice it is the statue of Christ, the Pyramids and Gondolas that first spring to mind but in the case of Cambridge it would probably be their universities as like Oxford, not only do they have the best universities in the UK but perhaps the best in the world. That does not mean though that nothing else exists in Cambridge other than the universities just as Rio also has its beaches, Cambridge also has its punting.
A punt is different from the Gondola of Venice as a punt is oblong shaped, having square corners whilst a gondola tapers to points at the end, similar to a canoe. Both the punt and the gondola however do have similarities which cannot be denied and those are that they are mainly designed to carry passengers and they are both powered by long poles, in the case of a punt, a 15’ pole. One other difference is that if a gondola makes you think of ice cream, punts have no such association with ice creams of any flavor.
The pole of a punt is not just used to power the punt but is also used to steer it and so it is often more difficult to do perfectly than many may first think. This does not mean however that people do not or should not have a go themselves as it can fairly easily be learned, just be careful at the start. Although many people do opt to punt themselves, many others prefer the less energetic option of taking a punt tour. This is a tour where you can just relax in the punt whilst someone else powers you gently along the Cam River, allowing you to more lazily take in all the sights along the river banks and in most cases, your personal punter will act as a tour guide as well, giving you full descriptions and details about everything you see as you glide down the slow moving shallow waters.