Oxford, England

Punting at Oxford

Punting is a quintessential pastime at Oxford and one that must be attempted by all who visit. Though it’s essential that we get a few basics right.

What is a punt?

A punt is a long flat-bottomed boat propelled by human muscle, technically, the arms at the end of a pole. Punts were constructed for transporting cargo on the Thames and for the odd fisherman. By late 19th century, punts were used for recreation purposes.

And yes, they are built pretty low; enough to let you reach out and touch the river.

And punting …

That’s the fancy name given to anyone who takes a punt out to the river. Though, we ought to warn you that the Oxonians and Cantabrigians, (that’s what the esteemed folk of Oxford and Cambridge Universities call themselves) take pride in referring to punting as a sport. They’re pretty serious about it too!

Choose your river

Oxford is blessed with two tranquil rivers – the Thames, locally known as Isis and Cherwell, a tributary that empties into the iconic English river. These meander along the most scenic landscapes of Oxford like the Botanic Gardens, the Christ Church meadows and of course, grand University buildings. You will also go under historic bridges like the Rainbow Bridge, High Bridge and the Magdalen Bridge. If you’re keen on punting in the Thames, head to Folly Bridge. Or else you can hire boats from Magdalen Bridge or Cherwell Boathouse.

A visit to Oxford is absolutely incomplete and unfinished if you’ve not been on a punt.

Handy Tips

  • If your adventurous self refuses to emerge, we suggest that you hire a ‘chauffeured’ boat.
  • Remember, you’re on a low, really low, boat and well, accidents do happen. Please ensure that your phones and whatever else you treasure are stored in a plastic bag. Ziploc sounds good.