Here is another picture of an even bigger punt. The wider fold-out deck might be necessary for the tent to fit, and could be a clever way to store water if that’s a problem (though punting with it would up the drag a fair bit). With empty water bottles it would serve to stabilise the punt a bit on a potentially choppy Thames. Note also the hooks to hold the punt pole, the correctly placed oar locks and how easy it would be to lock the punt down – bike locks at the front and back and a padlock in the middle make it inpenetrable.
Storage would operate with everyday stuff in the front part of the punt, easily accessible, and night stuff and less important stuff in the back compartment. Waterproofly bagged of course.
On further ponderance, there is an insane extension to this trip which I suspect I’ve neither time nor, quite, energy for, and that’s taking this monster to Venice.
It’s actually perfectly possible, although a major slog for months and not something I’m considering seriously, though I know someone who really wants a punt in Padova (30 miles by river from Venice). All that would be needed is a pretty Zen attitude and some good wheels to attach to the bottom of the punt. Ideally the thing would look a bit like a go-kart.
The route in a nutshell would be to head to London as planned, then to the south coast down the semi-existent Wey and Arun canal. There is a good number of waterless stretches here, so it would be slow going along the towpath.
We hit the south coast, and no it would be crazy to row over the Channel. Why does every assume that’s what I’m thinking. No, we take the punt to Newhaven for the ferry. This would be bags of fun – about thirty miles along the beach (on wheels) and heading downwind. i.e. hope for the right weather, rig up a sail and ride the beast. No need to worry about the River Adur on the way – don’t even stop – just sail across the harbour. Stop for a couple of days in Brighton as we breeze through – I’ve never been.
At Newhaven we hop on the ferry and cross the channel to Dieppe where we pull the same trick again heading thirty miles downwind along the coast until we hit the french canal system. Thence, hugging the smaller canals (the big ones are full of monsters!) we wind through France, with an optional detour to Paris. (Punt to Paris!)
There’s loads of different routes to choose from, but the point is that soon the punt reaches the end of a canal somewhere in the south of Switzerland. Maybe it went through Bavaria, maybe via Lyon and Geneva. Anyway it’s in the frigging Alps now. And … well, it looks like it’s only about 40 miles over a mountain pass until we reach a reasonably chunky river in the north of Italy. Again those go-kart wheels come in handy, for now, at least, if they have brakes, half of those thirty miles is probably downhill, and the other half might be hitch-hikable with a rope and somebody willing to drive pretty darn slowly. Just speculation.
Then it’s easy – ride the mountain river to Milan, pick up the canal system again there, and head East. Venice awaits! There we go.
I guess you had a couple of skeptical thoughts if you’ve made it this far. And yes, there’s still eight or ten things there that might prove impossible and might need further research. But it’s interesting. Now it’s your turn! Using this map plus Google, see where you could end up!