The Kingfisher River Bus 

 Cambridge to Grantchester by electric punt



The plan...

Using only two boats we plan to operate an hourly riverbus  between Bishops Mill upper river in Cambridge  and The Orchard Tea Garden in Grantchester running from 09:00 a.m.-07:00 p.m.  There are tentative plans to include two other stops at 'Dead Mans Corner' at Grantchester Meadows and the point in the river adjacent to the Red Lion/Green Man public houses.  Both these spots are already currently used by punt traffic.  The return journey, also once hourly, would be made from The Orchard Tea Garden meadow  back to  Bishops Mill Cambridge.

  • This would be ten trips per day shared between two punts at the height of summer. 
  • Each punt would  have a maximum capacity of twelve people.
  • This would be a maximum of one hundred and twenty people per day  being ferried into the village

The price of a single ticket would be £5. The price of a return would be £8. We would hope to offer a reduced rate for Grantchester residents.

Click here for map of proposed stopping points


The people...

We, Alex Ramsey and Matt Garlick are two Cambridge residents who between us have been involved in punting on the river for over twenty years. We are not looking to exploit the top river, just to earn a living for ourselves and our families and to provide a service for all to enjoy.


Environmental considerations...

We plan to use punts that have been modified to accept an electric outboard motor [2].  These would have a minimum effect on the environment because of the following key points:

  • They are flat bottomed, so in effect they cause no wake and negligible wash, which in turn means no disturbance to wildlife inhabiting the bank and no bank erosion.
  •  They would be powered by electric outboard motors that create zero emissions.
  •  The motors when running are so quiet they are hard to detect.

  Every passenger we take is somebody who could potentially use their car for the same journey.  Assuming the average number of passengers in a car is two,  with our boats  working to maximum capacity i.e. one hundred and twenty passengers a day,  that is potentially sixty cars NOT parking on the roads and verges of Grantchester.

We will also be dilligent in ensuring that none of our passengers will litter or cause damage to the river and its environs whilst they are aboard our boats.

Anybody familiar with the river bank between what is sometimes called 'Dead Mans Corner' and the Green Man and Red Lion pubs in Grantchester will know that quite a lot of bank erosion has been caused at both these spots by punts mooring.  One idea is to build small wooden jetties here that would protect the bank from further erosion and go some way to restoring the river to its original course. Although this would only be done after consultation and with the agreement of the riparian landowner.


The boats...

The boats we plan to use are hardwood construction camford punts built to a 21' length and a 4'6" beam. With four rows of three seats.  The design of the punt closely follows that of the punts used by the Granta Punt Company on the Granta mill pond in Cambridge.  They would travel at four m.p.h., the same speed as a conventional poled punt.


The modifications...

The only real difference between the punts we plan to use and the conventional pole-propelled craft is that an engine well has been cut into the back deck just forward of the rear huff (top view; see fig. 1), this is a boxed in well that extends through the floor of the punt. The engine is then mounted to a lip on the edge of the well allowing the shaft of the engine to be passed through the body of the punt and out through the bottom underneath the back of the boat, so that unlike a conventional outboard motor no parts of the actual engine are projecting from the edges of the boat (side view; see fig.2 ).




The engines...

The engines we plan to use are electric and  run off a series of 12 volt batteries similar to car batteries. They are made by Minn Kotta and are renowned for their low noise, zero carbon emission and lack of wash.

For more technical detail on these engines visit the Minn Kota website at the following link.


Pole or motor...

Punting is a skill, occasionally an art and to punt on the top river  is referred to as real punting. You need strength, skill and a knowledge of the river only really acquired with regular practice.  Consequently to hire a chaffuer to do it for you so that you may relax and enjoy it can cost fifty pounds per hour for a five seater boat. You will also need to allow four to five hours for the journey and time spent in the village, all very lovely,  but a lot of peole have neither the time, tolerance or the money to spend that long on a boat, and not everybody wishes to risk a soaking by trying to punt themselves.

Our electically powered punt service will offer an opportunity to those who cannot afford the trip by chaffuered boat, those unwilling to put faith in their own abilities, those on a limited time schedule whether it be tourist or local and those looking for a beautiful alternative  commute to and from work.

Bear in mind that legally we can go no faster than four miles an hour, a brisk walking pace,  or about the same speed as a good punter. Our journey however should take between thirty and forty minutes depending on strength of river flow. The reason for this time differential between the two methods is that our progress is not slowed by varying river depths, overhanging tree branches, thick mud and sections of the river bed that a standard punt pole will not reach.

We don't want to compete with puntings tradition or unique charm, rather we would like to complement it by providing a service for those who want to see this beautiful section of the river, but for whom pole punting, for whatever reason holds no appeal.

We hope you now that you have a better understanding of our plan and  intentions. We just want to do a job we both love on a river we both love and have the utmost respect for.

Thankyou for taking the time to visit our website.