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One of the most pleasant and well situated rivers in England, famous for the sport of Punting

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Bridge of Sighs
Clare Bridge
King's College View
Mathematical Bridge
The River Cam is one of the most pleasant and well-situated rivers of its region. It is a tributary of the Great Ouse, and has two tributaries running into it, less widely known as the Granta and the Rhee. Originally the whole River was named the Granta, when the city was named Grantebrycge. Its name was modified to the Cam when Cambridge became Cambridge, but where it flows upstream through Granchester it is still called the Granta.

Punting on the river
Another, very small tributary of the Cam is Bourn Brook. It joins the river at Byron’s Pool, named so because the renowned poet Lord Byron used to swim there. Another poet, Rupert Brooke, also swam in the Cam – he described the river like this in one of his poems called ‘The Old Vicarage’:
The stream mysterious glides beneath, Green as a dream and deep as death…To smell the thrilling-sweet and rotten, Unforgettable, unforgotten…The chestnuts shade, in reverend dream,The yet unacademic stream.

Punting Station by the Great Bridge at Quayside
Flowing through an area that has birthed so many of England’s great writers, the Cam has charmed many poets and makes an appearance in a good number of published works. It features in Philippa Pearce’s children’s books, and is mentioned in Milton’s ‘Lycidas’.

Punting under the College Bridges
Photo © Nick Stenning (CC)

Did You Know?

The stretch of the River from Jesus Green to the Mill Pond, that passes through The Backs of the University colleges, has a towpath deliberately submerged under its surface. This is because, when the River was used for the transportation of goods to the old Mill, the colleges would not permit horses pulling barges to walk in their boundaries. Therefore the horses walked through the water pulling their cargo, on the under-water towpath.

The Mathematical Bridge, built in 1749. The best views are from Silver Street bridge
The River is also clear enough to support fish for angling, and other recreational activities are popular; like boating, and of course there is the famous punting. Bird watching is also well-liked on the Cam – with over 50 varieties of birds to be seen. The area between Jesus Lock and Baits Bite Lock is the official training and racing area of the competitive Cambridge rowers, hoping to beat their long-time rivals Oxford. Swimming is also popular in the area of Granchester Meadows. There is even a tradition among a brave few who go for a dip there on New Year’s Day.
Visitor Information
Punting stations can be found at Mill Lane, Trinity College, Quayside and Jesus Lock. Scudamore's is one of Cambridge's most famous punt hire companies and they offer chauffeured punts, punt tours and self-hire punts. Tel: 01223 359 750

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