Punting in Cambridge: Private Tours
Greater flexibility for you, the person paying for the day out or gift experience day is never a bad thing, and such concepts have filtered through to the ultra traditional world of punting in Cambridge.
At the forefront of such exclusive punting experiences are Rutherford’s. And in arranging for EOE to sample their midweek offerings, which amounts to a more peaceful trip with the advantages that included the river being quieter and more beautiful (tick); the availability of evenings or morning tours 7 days a week, including sunset / sunrise tours and week day lunchtime tours (tick), and added to that a dog friendly policy, with a huge green close by to walk your dog before taking them up the river on the punt (another tick, three ticks, yay)!
So on a bright April day, after a cooler than average winter, we headed down to Cambridge’s iconic River Cam, to check in with Rutherford’s team at the quayside. Already, some good glimmers of spring sunshine were showing through, in defiance of a more cloudy forecast.
With Magdalene College a splendid backdrop on the other bank, everything ran smoothly – the staff were efficient and attentive, to our party and others, and we were soon ensconced in a tourist punt and gliding past seven of Cambridge’s colleges and under the eight bridges with a running commentary from pole-man at the back, JJ.
Ah yes, JJ. He played an integral role in getting us on to the punt in the first place, taking the hands of the ladies (Chloe and Pippa, 12) and sort of guiding me with a touch to the arm on to the five metre long punt. On this undeniably start-of-the-busy-season (the Easter holidays) day, it was soon clear that the river was much less crowded than our last visit to ‘the Backs’, five years ago.
Then, the river had been teeming with a mix of tourists and undergraduates, wedding parties and punts full of lads and ladies, with a few inevitable bumps as we passed the famous chapel of King’s College, Clare College, Queens’, Trinity, Trinity Hall, with their various bridges, including the beautiful Bridge of Sighs. On this altogether quieter midweek experience it felt like we almost had the river to ourselves, with just half a dozen other boats out.
Looking at the backs of the colleges it’s a great way to really get a view of the ancient buildings and rooms and a feel for the place. You can feel the academic endeavour in the atmosphere.
A heron fished on the south bank. Eventually we got to the turnaround point, near Queens’ and it was time for the ‘second half’ as we retraced our passage.
But always JJ’s grasp of college history was fascinating. Of course the biggest college we passed was wealthy (£2bn plus, at the last count!) Trinity, with its 1,000 students and there followed her much smaller sister, Trinity Hall (of course, preceding Trinity on the way back), once attended by a rather brilliant postgraduate student called Stephen Hawking (although, said JJ, the movie The Theory of Everything, with an Oscar winning turn by Eddie Redmayne, was actually filmed in 2013 at St John’s New Court and King’s).
Also we heard JJ’s assertion (news to me) that King’s takes 80 per cent of its undergraduate intake from state schools. The glories of the Wren Library, caressed by Queens’ Lane, were expounded with other fascinating details as we glided past the collegiate backdrop and private gardens.
Mid-week tours are indeed far more relaxed then busy weekend tours and our previous experience which was admittedly in the middle of May ball and stag and hen party season (June). To go even quieter, consider Rutherford’s evenings or morning tours 7 days a week, with sunset or sunrise tours. There are also peaceful weekday lunchtime tours.
But today the river was quieter and more beautiful, not so many people. Finally, just to cover the dog side of things, our Yorkshire Terrier, Lucky loved the whole experience, and his run on Jesus Green both before and after.
We greatly enjoyed our private tour today with JJ. To experience what we did, go to Rutherford’s private tour page at
Rutherford’s Recommended Services:
Save online with Rutherford’s shared tour tickets: https://www.rutherfordspunting.com/shared-tours/
Experience a private tour with your own accredited chauffeur: https://www.rutherfordspunting.com/private-punting/
Celebrate a day out on Rutherford’s much acclaimed Champagne tour: https://www.rutherfordspunting.com/champagne-punting/
Shared punting tours of Cambridge: https://www.rutherfordspunting.com/shared-tours/
Lunch on the river with a traditionally Cambridge picnic: https://www.rutherfordspunting.com/picnic-tours/