Top 5 Things To See On The River Cam

Traditional Punting Company

The River Cam

The River Cam is beautiful, there is no denying that… Some people come to Cambridge to take a trip along the river on a punt tour to see Cambridge’s finest educational institutions, or on a barge from various water ways around the UK, or even on the top river to Grantchester… As this river is a popular place to be throughout the year, we thought we would highlight our top 5 things to see along the River Cam… Our choices may not appear the most obvious, but we think there is so much to see on the river that you could take a few trips and always find something else you fall in love with.

Punting Cambridge

To start off with we are going to mention our three favourite things to see whilst on a chauffeured punt tour of the ‘College Backs’…

The first thing we love to see on the middle section of the River Cam, is the Virginia Creeper at St John’s College. This type of ivy becomes a spectacular blaze of red when Autumn hits, the leaves transform from green to scarlet in the change of seasons. In some places the vine, which climbs more than 10 metres high, to the top of the four-storey building, is so dense it can cover the windows. It is great for photos and gives the appearance that the college is on fire, with all the red heated tones that cover the back of the New Court Building. Make sure that you come to Cambridge in the Autumn to see this great sight.

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The Second thing that we always look out for on one of our punt tours is the Gargoyle of Spinola. This sculpture is not a discernible object that you would automatically see on a tour, which could be due to its size and location. However, we love the fact that it is quirky and bit different. You may find it spitting water into the River Cam from it’s location at Magdalene College. You might have seen the TV show called ‘Spitting Image’, well the people who are responsible for this programme also created this sculpture. Now knowing this you may see some similarity between them both. Keep an eye out on your tour when you pass Magdalene College to see if you can spot it, and be sure to ask your guide the story behind its creation.

The final thing that we love to see is the fellows garden of Clare College. In summer the manicured garden by the river is a myriad of multi-coloured blossoms. It is a sense of tranquility. There is a sunken pond garden, a sub-tropical garden, many beautiful borders and feature trees. From the river you can see a stretch of the garden which lines the Cam. Take time to look when passing to see all of the stunning planting which has been done, including two banana plants, see if you can pin point them in the photo below.

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We also wanted to include the main sights along the ‘College Backs’. Even though they are not highlighted in this top 5, we can’t not include them in this post, as the architecture which surrounds the Cam is truly breathtaking. During a punt tour you will see famous colleges and exclusive bridges that creates part of Cambridge University, including the Bridge of Sighs, the ‘Wedding Cake Building’ of St John’s College, the Wren Library, Kings College Chapel and the Mathematical Bridge just to name a few. As we mentioned earlier the lists of things to see on the River Cam is endless and we hope you will continue this list further when taking a chauffeured punt tour in Cambridge.

Rowing in Cambridge

One thing you will notice on the lower river is a lot of people rowing. This stretch of the river is lined with various boathouses that belongs to the Colleges and University of Cambridge. One that we love to see is the Cambridge University Goldie Boathouse, which is the oldest surviving boathouse on the Cam and was built in 1882. Recently you would have seen the likes of James Cracknell training in this very boathouse preparing for their recent win in the varsity boat race. Walking along the lower part of the Cam is remarkable especially during the latter part of the day. Stopping to sit on one of the benches just outside the Goldie Boathouse to take in its heritage, it’s the epitome of Cambridge life.


One thing that you cannot miss out on seeing are the enchanted meadows and fields that neighbour the River Cam in Grantchester, where cattle graze their days away. It is a picturesque stretch of river, although it does not house a magnificent bridge or grand chapel, the meadows are full of wildlife and is perfect for kayaking, swimming, or canoeing on those long hazy Summer days… There is one last thing (that is not counted in our top 5) which you may also come across whilst on the River Cam in Grantchester, and that is some nudist swimmers. It might not be everyones cup of tea and may take you by surprise, but there is a section of the river where people can come to swim in the nude.

That concludes our top 5 things to see on the River Cam… We hope that you can come and take a trip along the river soon, to see for yourself what this amazing river has to hold.

Punting in Cambridge, Chauffeured punt tour, College Backs, What to do in Cambridge, Visit Cambridge, Cambridge experience

Posted on April 14th, 2019, by the Traditional Punting Company