A quintessential way to spend a summer day in leafy Oxford, punting is an age-old tradition in this university city but one that requires a certain amount of skill to perfect. A chauffeured punt ride is an ideal way to avoid the embarrassment of navigating directly into the bushes or losing your pole in the murky depths, leaving you instead to sit back and soak up the passing scenery, enjoy a picnic or a glass of bubbly and admire the architecture. Passing historic college buildings and manicured gardens en route, you'll get a thorough overview of the city.
Your chauffeured punt ride begins at the Magdalen Bridge Boathouse, where you meet your expert guide and are directed to your hand-crafted punt. A punt is a long, flat-bottomed boat powered by a standing punter who drives a pole into the river bottom and propels the vessel forward. It sounds simple but it will soon become apparent from the number of stranded boats and struggling punters that it's not quite as simple as it looks.
With the help of your guide however, you can simply sit back and relax as you take in an alternative side of the city. Cruising gently along the tranquil River Cherwell (a tributary of the Thames), you glide past stately school and college buildings and their expansive grounds, navigating overhanging foliage and stone bridges.
The route and duration of your trip is entirely up to you. A typical journey will head south from the boathouse alongside the historic Botanic Gardens, which were first planted in 1621. Some of the towering trees, beautiful glasshouses and flower-filled borders can be admired as you pass.
Then it's on past the grounds of the prestigious Magdalen College School, one of England's top public schools, to Christ Church Meadows. The lush fields of Christ Church College were where Lewis Carroll taught and was inspired to write Alice Through the Looking Glass and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Finally you pass by the gardens of St Hilda's College, an all-female college up until 2008, before returning to the boathouse.
The trip takes about an hour and is a private tour option with the capacity for four passengers per punt. You have the option to enjoy a picnic hamper, or choose to have lunch independently before or after your trip.