The River Cherwell (pronounced Char-well) is a quiet tributary of the Thames, to the east of the city centre. It is a popular place to go punting ...which basically means you hire a flat bottomed boat and push it along using a long pole. It is possible to hire punts at Magdalen Bridge, or further north at Cherwell Boathouse (you'll probably need a car to get here). Costs (2011) are about £14-£16 per hour.
The Cherwell flows gently past the leafy college gardens of Oxford's colleges. There are several places to stop and have a picnic. Between Magdalen Bridge and Cherwell Boathouse is a change in level and, if you are brave and strong enough, you can drag your boat between the two levels over a path of metal rollers.
Punts have an 'Oxford' (flat) and a 'Cambridge' (raised) end. You will get comments if you punt standing on the Cambridge end, but the choice is up to you - punt where you feel comfortable! people do fall in to the river, be warned, make sure you haven't got your expensive camera or wrist watch on you when you are punting!! Good luck!
One of the most popular pastimes in Oxford is the sport of punting. A punt is a shallow boat that is propelled by a long stick manipulated by either yourself (or a rower of hire). There a several places along the river where you can rent boats and spend the afternoon on the water with a group of friends. It's an appropriate activity for a romantic date or rent several boats and go out with a large group. It's a fun way to spend a day in Oxford. Here are a few rental options:
Cherwell Boathouse - Open March through October (10 am to Dusk). "Chauffers" are available with a 2 week notice. £12 to £14 an hour or £60 to £70p all day
IPG Marine - Open April through October (11 am to 6 pm). £10 per hour.
Magdalen Bridge Boathouse - Open March through October (10 am to Dusk). £9 to £10 per hour.
From Magdalen Bridge, near the city centre, it's possible to hire punts - the long flat bottomed boats - for a trip along the River Cherwell, a tributary of the River Thames. The punt is steered and propelled by a person standing at one at end who pushes the boat forward with a long pole.
According to the tatty notice board on the wall by the bridge the charge for an hour is £14 for self hire or for 30 minutes, £20 per boat with a person ( usually students) to do all the work whilst you comfortably relax in the boat and watch the world go by.
From Magdalen bridge we saw one young guy trying ( rather unsuccessfully) to steer his boat out from the moorings. In the end he had to be rescued by one of the boat owners who managed to get the thing pointing the right direction. I don't know what the young woman in the boat thought of the young man. Having a number of observers from the bridge probably didn't help either.
Further along the river we came across a couple smooching in a punt. The poler was a young woman. See the photo taken from near the Botanic Garden.
...That is, if you know how to punt. Otherwise, choose something else to win the heart of your loved one, because I have seen some very un-elegant results of such enterprise! But if you simply want to have fun and see another side to Oxford, it is an excellent idea! In the city centre, self-poled punts, chauffeured punts and rowing boats can be found at Magdalen Bridge , contact: 01865 202643. And at the Cherwell Boathouse both for trips on the sinuous Cherwell. You will also find at the later one a restaurant and a river bar. Contact: 01865 515978.
On the other hand, if it is the Isis that you want to conquer (elsewhere knowned as the Thames) you can find punts, skiffs and canoes at the Folly Bridge. Contact: 0961 115369
One of the classic Oxford activites: Punting. My suggestion, if it's the summer (when else are you planning on getting into a boat?!), grab some strawberries from Sainsbury, some nice Champagne, a few friends, a good strong Oxonian boy and get punting! It's a lovely way to spend an afternoon, catch up with friends, meet new people (in the neighbouring punts, of course...not swimming in the river!) and just enjoy being in Oxford. Or another suggestion, little rendezvous with the love of your life...use the same plan, minus the friends, plus some chocolate syrup...
Punting on the Cherwell or the Isis (the local name for the Oxford part of the Thames) is a great pastime that I would definitely have tried if I had had a strong man to accompany me.
The Cherwell with its slow-flowing water seemed safer to me, the Isis can be really deep and there seem to be some strong currents at places. But if you are fit and a good swimmer, punting is a great way to see Oxford and the surrounding countryside.
There are three boatyards where you can hire punts: one by Folly Bridge (on the Isis), one by Magdalen Bridge and another one in Bardwell Road (both on the Cherwell). Prices: 10 GBP per hour plus a deposit from 15 to 50 GBP. Identification necessary. Chauffeured punts available from Magdalen Bridge. Visit the website for more information.
If you can't punt, take a boat trip to Abingdon instead, not quite the same but very enjoyable too.
The photograph was taken from Magdalen Bridge and shows what the camera saw - the balustrade was too high for me to see anything and crowds of tourists were blocking the way down to the bank.
Michael is lucky as Magdalen have their own punts so every so often he'll take to the water, always in a group where no-one knows the first thing about controlling the boat!! How people don't drown is the question I always ask. Students are notorious for drinking and punting!!
Punts are available to the public for hire.tt's a pretty expensive business so make the most of the hire. Prices start from £9 an hour with huge deposits payable.
If you (and your partner/family) have time and a bit spare cash (you do, don't you), then punting is a must.
Punting in Oxford is one of the 'must do' avtivities.
Hire the punt at Magdalen (pronounced - Mawdelin) Bridge and go north between University parkland, The Parks - and meadows. You will be on the River Cherwell (pronouced Charwell).
You can get an experienced student to punt for you, or do it yourself.
Prices to follow.
Now that was fun! I got the hang of punting pretty quickly with help from my sister.
The river is very picturesque, and if you ignore the very slight road noise then you can barely believe you're in the middle of Oxford! Also, it's not very expensive at all!
There is a large amount of wildlife, especially water-birds like ducks, moorhens, coots, geese and swans.
BEWARNED! If you take food with you the swans may try to STEAL IT from the back of your punt! Trust me on that one!!
It's nice to go out in small groups if you're looking for relaxation, but if you want mayhem and the occasional splash from a fellow punter, then go in groups of six or seven. (It's fun to push people in!)
Credit where credit's due on that hilarious cartoon: I got it from the url in the caption!
Punting is a great way to spend an afternoon in Oxford. During the summer, there are a number of boathouses that rent out punts, both on the Cherwell and Isis.
It's not cheap however (£10 per hour, or £50 all day), so it's a good idea to take a few friends, and split the cost, the boats can seat about 6.
Punting is quite a hard art to master, but once you get the hang of it, you can move at quite a rate.
It's very easy to lose your balance however (especially when you've been at the Pimms and lemonade). A change of clothes is recommended.
You must also remember that it is traditional to punt from the flat end of the boat.
Do watch out for the swans, if you take a picnic, they will try and steal it. A swan can break your arm if you're not careful.
This is a fun activity do do with a group of friends. (Plus you can split the cost) There are a couple of places to rent by the hour. Pole along the river...race other punters...watch the rowing teams practice...try to stay out of their way! Punting is MUCH more difficult than it looks!!
Nothing whatever to do with Lyra, who is not recorded as going punting. But no self-respecting Oxford page would be right without a dreamy drift along the Cherwell in a punt.
Come to think of it, just such a boat trip on a drowsy summer afternoon gave birth to the greatest of all Oxford tales, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Right- back to Oxford itself for this one.. go punting! It is my very favourite Oxfordshire based activity. Theres owt better than a lazy summer afternoon, cruising along the Thames having a chuckle with a good group of mates and stopping in at the various pubs en route to nowhere!
I haven't actually been to anywhere that has got anything like it. And I bet you find it harder than it looks at first! You get used to it after 10 minutes, but its quite strange at first.
This is a traditional activity among students at Oxford and Cambridge. A number of local companies have punts for hire in Oxford. Others have cruises on the river.