I blogged last month about a journey across Telford’s magnificent aqueduct at Pontcysyllte. That trip was partly inspired by its inclusion in a new paddling guide book that appeared in my Christmas stocking last year – Lizzie Carr’s Paddling Britain – 50 Best Places to Explore by SUP, Kayak & Canoe.
The journey across the aqueduct was completed in canoe, but for a trip this month also from Lizzie’s book it seemed wrong to consider using anything other than a paddleboard. This is partly because Lizzie is a SUP enthusiast herself but also because I had the opportunity to paddle at Cambridge where it seemed almost every other craft on the water was being propelled by someone standing on their feet.
It was a gorgeous day to be on the water and the stunning architecture of Cambridge’s colleges made a marvellous backdrop. And it seemed every punt hire operator and punter was out making the most of both. It was good-natured mayhem and much enlivened when one of the punters made the cartoon-strip error of becoming separated from his pole. It seemed impossible to believe this was really happening but there it was in front of me, a punter and his fares drifting downsteam while the punt pole was standing vertically, stuck in the mud behind them!
Those that know me will know I couldn’t resist the challenge. It was a chance to show the punters just how manoeuvrable a SUP is and it took just seconds to reach the spot, stow my paddle and execute a neat 180 around the pole before punting my board back downstream with the pole to its owner. And amazingly my wife managed to capture the incident on camera, all happening beneath the famous Mathematical Bridge.
Good deed for the day done it was back to paddling, a portage over the rollers from Mill Pond, on up the Cam (or was it now the Granta?) to Grantchester to stop for a well-earned ice cream at The Orchard Tea Garden before returning to our get-in. The Cam through the Cambridge ‘Backs’ and then across the meadows above the city is a delightful, highly recommended paddle. Even without the excitement of the punting incident it would have been a thoroughly memorable day. Thank you Lizzie, I wonder what adventures await on the next 48 excursions inspired by your book?