Punt Adventure: the Inkling

It’s been on my mind a while now, and now it’s itching into existence – I’ve even got a preliminary diagram. See, I think I want to punt somewhere – how about London?

This pimped-out punt is dead easy to make – the deck can be from dead doors, and the oar locks hopefully can just clamp on (oh hey they’re in the wrong place on the diagram). This means that the punt itself is undamaged. A couple of bike locks stop nosy people fingering my things below-deck when I’m in the pub.

London’s certainly possible, though it’s a long way – we’re talking several hundred miles:

The most exciting looking route goes like this: down the Cam, about face at that blue bit and head into the maze of the Middle Level Navigation (try not to get lost and become a bearded wild man, lurking in the reeds and ransacking sleeping barges). Barrel (figuratively) up the Nene from Peterborough and head west from Northampton then south down the Oxford Canal to Oxford. Hit the Thames and ride it to London! Hopefully many hours (nights, even?) will be whiled away gently adrift on the river when I’m not punting. At some point, the Thames will become deep and unpuntable BUT FEAR NOT this punt has oars. Then it’s London.

Now, it’s not illegal to take a punt down the Thames. Yup. I think further customisation may be in order to keep the darn thing afloat for sure (this is clever – I’ll draw it tonight) and progress will have to be careful. BUT I wish to punt under Tower Bridge. Also, the Grand Union back through North London looks gorgeous – taking you under Islington and through Regent’s Park. An Observer journalist had a jolly old time there. Sound like I’ll need to hitchike through the tunnel though. From London it’s up the Grand Union to Northampton and back to Cambridge.

I’ll definitely be taking a big rope with me. Being towed by strangers sounds like a good idea. It’ll also, I reckon, be necessary for the 500m of tidal flow at Salter’s Lode when you jump from the Cam to the Nene, if this comic by Mike Smith (www.blogshank.com) is anything to go by:

All that remains is to find the time to do this (Autumn if I’m going only to London, next Spring if it’s a round trip), round up as many people as possible to come join in for a few days, and work out how to document it all. I’m thinking visual diaries and collecting water-related stories from lots of people on riverbanks.

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