No summer (or autumn!) is complete without a trip down the River Cam. It helps that Cambridge isn’t too far away and its historic centre is absolutely stunning. And we’ve conquered it sans husband—twice. Definitely has tradition potential.
This weekend we finally dragged daddy along for his first punting adventure. I think it’s safe to say he too was left wondering why it took us an entire year to discover the magic of Cambridge. And punting with kids is awesome. It’s the perfect family outing for kids of all ages. You can even bring your dog!
Our first punting experience was a few months ago. It was late July and Cambridge was teeming with tourists. My children were like instant celebrities as Asian tourists were snapping away—not at Kings’ College, but at my stroller-confined children. We swerved through the throngs of tourists while taking in the breathtaking colleges and their chapels. American university campuses pale in comparison to universities like Cambridge with colleges founded as early as the 13th century. The spectacular King’s College Chapel dominated our walk towards the river. On our left, adorable toy stores, old fashioned candy shops, and apparel stores beckoned.
See a stroller’s eye view of our walk through Cambridge and punt ride on our new YouTube channel!
Eventually making our way to the river, I’m always pleased to have purchased our discounted tickets online to avoid the lines for the “licensed” tour. We typically depart from their Mill Lane location and they store our stroller for us while we punt. We are big Scudamore’s fans and they don’t have to pay me to say that. They’re organized, dress the part, and all of the guides we’ve had are knowledgeable and entertaining. I don’t think I will ever desire to hire a punt and act as “punter”. I enjoy the traditional, “chauffeured” tours. And besides, if I’m busy attempting to punt, my kids would end up in the water… It’s 45 minutes of bliss. Ducks in the river, cows on the shore, and mommy brings snacks for the kids on the boat. My kids are mesmerized and I actually get to learn about the history of Cambridge University with minimal interruptions.
Fast forward to this weekend’s punting tour. I’ve been impressed by the breadth of knowledge of each of our tour guides. Instead of being a boring repetitive endeavor, I’ve gleaned new facts and trivia with each punter. (It probably helps that I like to ask questions.) From Isaac Newton and the Mathematical Bridge to the original manuscript of Winnie the Pooh and faculty like Stephen Hawking—the tour offers a wealth of fascinating knowledge in a scenic and relaxed 45-minute journey. While my kids munch on grapes and goldfish and gleefully hope we bump into the other boats, I’m learning that the third oldest university in the world also has more Nobel Prize winners than any other university in the WORLD. Take that Oxford. (I confirmed, in case you were wondering.)
Oh, and make sure to ask your punter (aka guide) about night climbing. Whenever I’m in Cambridge in December, I check for a Santa hat atop King’s College Chapel. But so far it appears it hasn’t happened since 2009.
If you’re still not sold on the awesomeness of this tour, consider this. If you start and end your tour at Scudamore’s Mill Lane punting station, you can enjoy a beer at the adjacent Anchor Pub. In addition to the occasional smirk-worthy anti-hipster signage, it’s also where Pink Floyd played regularly before becoming famous. Pink Floyd.
Let’s recap. Historic town centre with gorgeous buildings and chapels dating back to the 13th century. Romantic boat tour that the kids enjoy. Beers at Pink Floyd’s old stomping ground. Perfect outing for parents and kids. And there’s ice cream.