Punting on the CherwellOxford
We have all seen photos and movies of punting on the Cherwell – a pleasant sight and an exciting experience.
A punt is a flat-bottomed craft with a square-cut bow, designed for use in shallow water.  The punter propels the boat by pushing against the river bed with a pole.
Traditional pleasure punts are made of wood and are generally 24 feet (7.3 m) long and 3 feet (0.91 m) wide. The sides are about 18 inches (0.5 m) deep. Both the bow and the stern are cut square, with a long shallow "swim" i.e. the underside of the boat slopes very gently at the front and the back.
The pole is normally 16 feet (4.9 m) long and weighs about 10 lb (5 kg).  It is usually made of wood or aluminium with a metal shoe at one end.  The pole is used to both propel and steer the punt.
So, how is it done?
Since the punt has no keel, it draws only a few inches of water and is extremely manoeuvrable and can be punted backwards or forwards with equal facility.  The technique is to stand in the back of the punt, allowing the pole to descend through the hands until it reaches the bottom of the stream.  Pay attention to the sound and feel of the pole as it strikes the bottom.
What you do next depends on whether the bottom is gravel or mud.
If it is gravel push hard to move the punt; if it is mud push gently to avoid getting the pole stuck.  Punting is not as easy as it looks but it is great fun.  If possible, watch an experienced punter before trying yourself.
In 1999 fibreglass pedalo punts were introduced to the River Cherwell, much to the horror of the traditionalists.  This is the easy way out.
Ok, now are you ready to give it a go? You will need a companion, a picnic basket of tasty food and maybe a pleasant drink or two. The two websites below will be able to hire you a boat and all that goes with it.
Accommodation - Search & Book through Tripadvisor here: 
Punting boats are available for hire between Easter and September from:
- Cherwell Boathouse, 50 Bardwell Road, Oxford OX2 6ST
Punt Hire                 Tel: +44 (0)1865 515 978
Restaurant Bookings  Tel: +44 (0)1865 552 746
- Oxford Punting, Magdalen Bridge Boathouse, The Old Horse Ford, High Street, Oxford, OX1 4AX
Telephone   +44 (0)1865 202 643
Google Map - Punting on the Thames