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Punting in Oxford

By Lizzie Horton (@liz.thescientist)

Summer is here in Oxford, which means punting season has started! Punting is a type of recreational boating, which is done in both Oxford and Cambridge (although the styles of punting differ between the two!).


A punt is a long, flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow, designed for use in small rivers and shallow water. It is controlled by someone standing on the back of the punt with a setting pole – a large pole (typically 4.5m) which is used to touch the bottom of the riverbank and push the boat along.


Punting is a very popular pastime during Oxford summers, done predominantly on the River Cherwell. It is a quiet, rural affair and participants can enjoy views of the Oxford green belt – fields and woods. There is much wildlife to spot along the way. Punters can also choose to go to Port Meadow and enjoy the less muddy Isis river. The tradition at Oxford is to punt from inside the boat rather than from on top of the till and to propel the punt with the till end facing forwards: a tradition dating from before 1880.


My favourite punting path is from Cherwell Boathouse going downstream towards Banbury. You will go past a popular pub – The Victoria Arms, which is a lovely place to moor and enjoy a pint or lunch. It will take about 20 minutes to get from the boathouse to the pub. The punts fit up to 6 people including the punter, and it costs £25 per hour to rent from the Cherwell boathouse.


Happy punting!


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