As the months turn to winter, the almost medieval nature of the punt trade is really clear. If the wooden poles are not enough, the work to take care of the punts in low season is really old fashioned. The boat owners will be trudging through muddy fields and hauling the one tonne vessels into storage. Through frost bitten grass and sideways rain the boats have to be hauled off the river and delivered safely for repairs and maintenance. Just with any seasonal occupation the contrast between the glowing sun during the peak months and the icy conditions of the workshop is felt all too well. Some punters take an off-season break to a tropical destination, while others are left with the necessary but gruelling task of caring for the hardware of the business.
This is not to mention the boats and punters that remain on the river well into the winter, showing people the colleges in the crisp air. Pushing a punt when there are traces of ice on the surface of the water is hardly the most appetising prospect in the depths of December. Only a few hardened souls stick it out to the bitterly cold end, but even if you want to go punting on Christmas Day, there will be people to fulfil your, slightly odd, need. Someone will be there regardless of the conditions to hand out the extra blankets and umbrellas for the visitors while bearing the slow numbing effect of the water on their hands. The tour can be just as beautiful in the dim low rising light with bare trees as at any other time in the season.
In the meantime, before the bitter months start to creep in, the red leaves and pleasantly warm temperatures are great company for a punt trip. This time of year is a great way to avoid the crowds that swooped in over the sweltering summer months and enjoy all the same sights with a slightly calmer atmosphere. If you missed out this year or just want to come and relax in the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, September and October are the perfect balance of picturesque and peace.
All images © Martin Bond Photography. For more images of Cambridge check out martin Bonds Cambridge Diary