The Tab’s virtual punting tour
Because no Cantabrigian Instagram is complete without one
So, your first week at Cambridge wasn’t really what you were expecting.
You’re more of a small fry than a second Stephen Fry, you live in the shameful architectural secret that your college coughed up in the sixties, and you still haven’t so much as sat in a punt.
Well, worry not. Punting may be an expense most students save until May Week rather than the weekly Sunday exertion you imagined, but I’m going to cut you the cost (if not the crap) of an authentic tour by offering you a virtual one instead. Please read on, remembering to keep your hands and arms on your keyboard at all times.
We’ll be pushing off by Magdalene bridge (or, to use a more attractive landmark, Prezzo). When you consider that punt tours usually have all the historical accuracy of The Da Vinci Code, the fact that this bridge was built exactly 180 years before the publication of Dan Brown’s psychological thriller/detective novel/potentially anti-papist truth bomb seems no mere coincidence. After all, if Dan taught me anything, it’s that spurious connections should never be dismissed. Therefore, it’s clearly pretty solid evidence that Magdalene college and Jesus college once had a thing, probably involving both the Vitruvian Man and Tom Hanks.
Moving on towards St. John’s, make sure that you take time to appreciate the monstrosity of the Cripps Building. Famous for its maze-like layout which makes it pretty much impossible to escape (rumour has it that the court is haunted by the ghosts of those who had one-night stands with John’s freshers and never found the way out), the building was Grade II listed in 2009.
While it’s tempting to think that one may as well Grade II list an industrial portaloo, I’ll point out in my capacity as a wholly impartial Tab writer that the cloisters and Portland stone are a thoughtful homage to the original John’s buildings. Who knows, if there had been an eighth Harry Potter book, I’m sure that the adaptation would have been filmed here.
Take a deep breath and enjoy some architectural fresh air in the form of the Bridge of Sighs. The reasons behind its name are disputed; some say it’s a reference to students who would cross the bridge before and after sitting their exams, sighing away the remains of a torn and trampled spirit. In any case, it’s only really a worthwhile visitation if you’re on your way to or from Orgasm bridge. Otherwise the sighs are likely to be ones of disappointment. (On that note, please don’t ignore Tit Hall as we pass).
We’re coming to Clare now, the oldest college on the Cam and the second prettiest after Trinity (told you I was impartial). Its bridge, which has more balls atop it than the guy who climbed to the top of King’s chapel with a traffic cone, is an ideal place under which to shelter your punt if it’s raining. Alternatively, feel free to steer your unsuspecting friends into one of the willows that line the bank, especially if one of them has just received an important phone call about an internship. I have totally never done this.
You can see King’s Chapel to the left, but it needs no introduction. Basically it’s very pretty and your Instagram is probably already full of it. More interesting is the Mathematical bridge at Queen’s college. Enjoy it while you can; it’s no doubt only a matter of time before arts students make a hashtag saying its name is discriminatory.
In the spirit of saving the best until last, we end our tour at one of Cambridge’s most famous landmarks: the Anchor.
I’d like to point out that if you get to the stage of drunkenness where everyone starts looking vaguely like the Vitruvian man, it’s probably not a great idea to get back into the punt.