River Cam, Cambridge

This is a short run with a good finish through the Backs of Cambridge, dodging the punts for fun. No car ferry is necessary as it is an out and back trip.

Start by parking at the car park near the outdoor paddling pool near the Fen Causeway and Newnham Roads.

This opens late in the morning through the week, but early at weekends. I did this run on a Sunday and parked at 9.30 a.m. and it was quite empty. By 10.30 a.m. it was nearly full.

You start on a small branch of the main river for about 50 metres, then turn right and head upstream. By setting off early you will miss the first of the punts and the water will be clear as the poles will not have stirred up the mud. Follow the river upstream until it splits in two. You can go right, to the old mill at Grantchester, where you can get out and stretch your legs.

If you take the left hand branch, you can canoe for about another half mile, to Byron's Bridge. At the weir, it is possible to portage and go onto the upper Cam.

Return to the carp park for lunch or another break. The river will now have the day trippers in punts or hire canoes. Some in control, sone worth avoiding and on a hot day, everyone sweating as they struggle to gain some semblance of control.

This journey is about 5 miles and takes about 2 hours.

After lunch, head back onto the main river and turn left. You are immediately into Cambridge. After nearly half a mile, you come to Silver St. You have to portage on the left. There are some rollers for pulling your boat up and down. These can be shot if there is enough water in the bottom part of the river. I had to fight my way past punts being pulled up and down.

You are now on the main tourist part of the river. If you want a free commentary, follow the big punts with up to 10 passengers. these usually have a student giving a running commentary on the bridges and colleges that you go past. Kings College is the most obvious. Some bridges are copies of others, such as the Bridge of Sighs.

It is good fun and exercises your turning ability dodging punts on this part of the river. Eventually you go under an ironbridge, first built in 1823 and there is the new Quayside with attendant shops and eateries. Very quickly, you come to Jesus Lock, get out on the right, next to the ice cream shop.

You can portage here and continue down the river, going past all the University boat houses. I will describe this on anoather run.

Return by going back up the river to the car park. this journey is about 2-3 miles and takes about 1 hour, not including stops.


Start Upper Cam Swans Upper Cam


Mill at Grantchester Resting Place Idyllic River Left hand turn, end.


Rollers at Silver St. Silver Street Kings College Bridge of Sighs


Quayside Iron Bridge Jesus Lock End of this trip