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I am interested in a self-driven punt - without a tour guide. I want to travel through the colleges. I imagine the trip will take an hour.

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Tangentially related: if you haven't read Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog) by Jerome K. Jerome, you should. Heck, everyone should. –  Dori Jun 27 '11 at 6:34
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up vote 10 down vote accepted

I suspect all the commercial ones will be the same price - they always are in Oxford

However, almost all (all?) the colleges will have punts, either their own ones, or ones they've rented for the whole season. If you know someone from a college, and it's not too popular a day, they should be able to book a college one for free / cheap (depends on the college)

Otherwise, a few handy tips:

  • If in doubt, stay on the punt and let go of the pole. You should have a small paddle to get you back to the pole, and that way you avoid a swim...
  • There are two ways to steer. One is by choosing the position of the pole when you push, one is using the pole as a rudder at the end of the stroke. Try to avoid accidentally doing the former!
  • Going fast takes lots of practice, start slow!
  • Balance yourself well, especially when people are moving about the punt. Try to ensure only one person moves at once, otherwise you may all end up in the water...
  • Drinking while punting takes a lot of practice. Instead, have someone out of pole-drip-reach hold onto your glass. Don't put it near you, or you'll either kick it over, or water from the pole will go into it
  • Watch others to see what works and doesn't
  • Enjoy, it's fairly easy and very fun!
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College punts are only available to students/alumni of the college, apart from Trinity which charge comparable rates to the companies. –  fredley Jun 27 '11 at 10:22
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That's why I said "If you know someone from a college"! –  Gagravarr Jun 27 '11 at 10:42
    
And what is the price you should expect from commercial? –  Tschareck May 29 at 12:13
    
Of the order of 15 quid an hour, but the price seems to slowly creep up from year to year... (Expect to pay about double if you want a guide to punt you) –  Gagravarr May 29 at 17:34
    
Scudamores is 25 quid an hour. Trinity 14. –  DJClayworth May 29 at 17:36
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Scudamores is the usual choice. They have rental stations at both ends of the 'college backs' stretch of the river - Mill Lane or Quayside - as well as an location that lets you punt to Grantchester, but won't take you by the backs (Boatyard). Punts can't traverse between the two stretches (i.e. Scudamores won't let you do that - there are rollers that allow college and private punts to do it). Their current rates are 25 pounds an hour, with a discount if you pre-book an hour-and-a-half online. Be prepared for a wait in high season.

Trinity College also rents to the public, at 14 pounds per hour, with reduced rates for university members. I suspect that the wait will be significantly longer, but they are definitely the cheapest if you don't have a university association.

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