The Oxfordshire Punting Survival Guide: 101

What better way to admire Oxfordshire’s culture and beauty than by floating down the river with either yourself, a friend or a hired punting chauffeur (yes, you can get royal treatment) drifting you along. The sound of the water lapping against the boat, the sun illuminating the architecture and the soft songs of the ducklings waddling after their mothers- all the while trying to remain calm in attempting to master your balance and avoid a very wet and embarrassing submersion.  

Your Personal Punting Survival Guide

Consider this as your personal punting survival guide and lifeline to mastering the high-class and traditionally aesthetic art of punting. It will tell you what you will need to bring to ensure the best of experiences, where you can hire a punt and avoiding mistakes that could lead to you and your friends getting soaked (the first one being by not annoying your designated punter!) 

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The Punting Survival Kit

If it is your first time punting, I would highly recommend you take the following items:

A blanket or jumper

The last thing you need on a memory-making day is to be cold! And although punting is mainly for sunny days, in England that prediction is almost never certain, so bring some layers and get comfortable! 

A waterproof

Although punting in the rain would be gloriously dramatic, after five minutes you might regret not bringing a waterproof coat – with a hood – or an umbrella. It always helps to be prepared!

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Food and water

Being pushed around the river can be exhausting and tiring work, especially if you chose to be the one doing it! Bringing a picnic adds to the enjoyment of seeing Oxford from the water and staying hydrated is key in hot weather. 

Polaroid or disposable camera 

Core memories are being made and must be captured for retelling your experience in years to come! Whether its you posing on the punt, practicing photography on Oxfordshire’s beige buildings or wildlife, a camera is definitely an essential.

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A book

To further enhance the scenery and to embrace the Jane Austin, main character in film aesthetic, a novel with such a view would be medicine for the mind and soul. Unwind your stress and have a moment where time is of no consequence and your reality is centred around your wellbeing.


Finally, a towel or spare change of clothes may be advised if your balance is somewhat lacking or are known for clumsy acts. As graceful as punting certainly appears, mastering both entering and exiting the punt can be a little tricky. Therefore, there is no harm in coming prepared with some SOS back up clothing!

Where to Hunt for a Punt

An image of Oxfordshire's punting riverside.
punting survival guide.
Image credit: Noel Broda

The Magdalen Bridge Boathouse near the city centre provides the most scenic route, showing both the nature and traditional architecture of Oxfordshire. The employees are extremely welcoming and positive! However, on particularly warm summer days it is recommended to prebook your punting on their website due to the popularity of the activity – you can’t blame the queue, it is a very appealing prospect to sunbathe on the cool water in warmer temperatures. The costs are not too bad- and if you go as a group of 5, it can work out at just £5 each for an hour of time on the river!

There’s also the Cherwell Boathouse if you are further down the river- located between North Oxford and Summertown. They offer European creative dining options in an on-site restaurant (suitable for a more sophisticated day out!).

This pre-booking is also extremely helpful if you wish to organise an event such as a birthday celebration in Oxfordshire. You can choose whether to book a punting chauffeur or get stuck in and attempt the skill yourself – both seem extremely inviting.

First-Hand Punting Mistakes to Avoid

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The first mistake to avoid would evidently be to not fall in! When entering and exiting the punt you may choose to be escorted by one of the staff members, maintain a low posture and take your time to get seated. Appropriate footwear such as trainers would be advised to also help with this.

If you volunteered to be the chauffeur of the punt, first of all, brave choice. Make sure your stance is wide and use the quant pole for balance, pushing it against the bed of the river to press the punt forwards. As for steering, change the placement of the pole to guide yourselves around the winding bends of the river.

Once you’re on the water, cruising along make sure you do not forget to bring some bread for the ducklings – your heart strings will melt if you come unprepared and crush their innocent quacks of hope. Equally, do make sure you are wise and don’t end up adopting a family of ducks by inviting them inside of the punt. 

Overall, admiring the culture of Oxfordshire through the art of punting is a highly recommended activity, guaranteed to offer you memorable stories and sights. So enjoy it and watch your step!

As you are an individual attracted to culture and history, we have the perfect article for you! While you’re here, find out about The top 6 historic places you must visit in Oxford City Centre.