With the Summer season in full swing and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, Canterbury is starting to feel much more like the home city we knew pre-pandemic. Visitor numbers are up in the city and at weekends the town centre is attracting tourists, which is great for local businesses. Some of the businesses that are benefitting from this include the River Stour punting companies. Seeing the city by boat provides you with a unique perspective of the historic Cathedral district and it’s great to see so many people signing up for the tours.
Our punting experiences
Despite being aimed at visitors, I think everybody in the city should go on a Canterbury punting tour at least once during their time here. We’ve been on the tours twice: once in Summer 2018 when my Canadian friend was visiting and a second time a couple of weeks ago with some University friends. Both times I learnt something new about the city and it encouraged me to notice the little fascinating details in the downtown architecture that I’d normally gloss over on a trip into town.
Canterbury Punting Company
Canterbury Punting Company was our tour company of choice and they can be found on the idyllic Water Lane in the heart of the city centre. The company owns the independent cafe The Mooring and visitors can book their historic city centre tour at the cafe reception. What makes them stand out is their traditional Cambridge punting boats. I’ve actually been punting on the River Cam a few times and the Canterbury Punting Company boats are exactly what you’d expect to see in Cambridge. The boats take 12 passengers in normal times or one party per row of seats in COVID times, with the company having installed a screen at the centre of the boats to ensure visitor safety. On our recent boat trip the organisers sat the 5 of us in our party together on one side of the plastic screen, leaving the other side free for 2 more groups to sit in the remaining rows of seats. This arrangement was great for us as we had our own section of the boat to laugh and catch up with our friends.
The tour route and points of interest
Over the course of 45 minutes, the guide took us on a relaxing journey along the waterways in the city centre. We passed key sights such as the Eastbridge Hospital and the Old Weavers House, learning some new facts about their origins along the way. It was such a sunny day when we were out on the boats and the view from the river was spectacular. It was so good to slow down for a bit, enjoy the boat ride and soak up the atmosphere of this wonderful place we call home.
The furthest point of the tour was the Abbot’s Mill Garden and the infrastructure left over from the former water mill. The tour guide stopped at the edge of the gardens for a few minutes, letting us pause at the end of the canal and watch the machinery at work. It’s really impressive and a great place to put the camera down whilst you’re on a tour. There’s so much to see near the former Abbot’s Mill with the cathedral views, vibrant flowers, complex water features and old buildings of the city centre.
The tour had a lot of variety with all of the bridges and tunnels covered. Some were so low that our tour guide had to crouch down as we travelled under them. We had a lot of fun spotting wildlife in the tunnels and exploring the city from down below.
Would I recommend a punting tour?
Joining a punting tour is a great way to experience the historic architecture of Canterbury city centre. The tour guides have so much knowledge that even locals like ourselves end up learning something new! If you make it to Kent for a staycation or day out this Summer, definitely consider booking a punting tour here in Canterbury. The novelty of the boats and the touristy atmosphere will make you feel like you are away on holiday. There are lots of boating companies offering tours of the city covering the historic centre, Westgate and the surrounding Kent countryside. We have just scratched the surface of the tour options with the Canterbury Punting Company.
Thanks for reading my blog today.
Love Kat xxxx