It’s high summer in Oxford and peak season for the city’s best-loved pastime. For almost 150 years, students in search of entertainment or a little peace have headed for the river for a spell of punting, one of the gentlest and most peaceful occupations ever devised. Two punting stations – at Magdalen Bridge in the city centre or the Cherwell Boathouse in the northern suburbs offer traditional boats with prices from £22 an hour.  And on a fine day, that’s a bargain.

To take a punt on the River Cherwell – a tributary of the Thames – is too pass through an incomparable landscape with views over Christ Church Meadow, Magdalen College, and the University Parks, as well as open countryside to the north of the city: the Victoria Arms in the village of Marston makes a perfect destination. Just be warned that propelling a long heavy boat with a 12 foot pole is no easy matter. For first-timers, there’s guidance available on Underhill’s Punting Map.

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