The River Cam | Kidadl
main river that flows through Cambridgeshire

The River Cam is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read our Terms & Conditions for further information.

  • Take a trip down this magical, breathtakingly green river for your fix of nature, in this fairytale setting as you navigate the River Cam.
  • This historic site has a rich past, used for food and transportation, plus as a military boundary in the Anglo Saxon, Roman, and Viking times.
  • Don't miss out on the riverside pubs you'll pass where you can relax after navigating through the river and take in the atmosphere.
  • Let the natural rhythms of this Cambridge river take over and become a master at punting as you synchronise your energy with the River Cam.

The River Cam is the main river that flows through Cambridgeshire, in east England. Punting on the River Cam can be great fun, for either trying out the navigation yourself or just enjoying the ride and views. River Cam boat trips are easy, scenic and always a hit with the whole family.

With three locks, it runs from Cambridge to the junction with the Great Ouse, at Pope's Corner.  Just upstream from Cambridge, the river is used often by canoeists as far as Guilden Moor and Audley End, which runs through the river Granta.

As one of many historic sites in Cambridge, the River Cam was important, especially during the Roman Times, as it was fully navigable from the Wash as far as Cambridge and connected the northernmost point for transport from East Anglia to the Midlands. Magdalene Bridge was known as the "Great Bridge" and was an important Roman era river crossing as all routes had to converge at this crossing. From then on, it became essential in river trade from 1118 to 1845 as a trading route, built with boats bringing fish and grain, meat and salt, coal and reeds, timber and stone. 

There are loads of activities and things you can do on the River Cam, from punting to fishing, and sometimes even swimming. You can do guided tours, or try it out yourself, what floats your boat! With River Cam boat hire, you can relax on the river on a lovely day as you ride past beautiful scenic landscapes. Why not check out the Cambridge University Botanic Garden, or go on a hop-on, hop-off Cambridge bus tour if you want to explore on land.

The Cam is at least six to seven feet deep in some places, and with 25 bridges, it's clear that this river has many different uses. With clean water that isn't murky, the River Cam is great for angling and is a perfect place to introduce your kids to fishing.

When you're feeling peckish, be sure to check out the pubs on the River Cam, which makes for a wonderful dining experience. Where else can you have some great food, drink and hospitality on the riverfront? We recommend Grant a Pub, located in Granta Moorings (they even have a heated terrace). 

What to know before you go

  • If you're looking to do some River Cam fishing, it's important to note though, that fishing rights on the West Bank are leased yearly to the Cambridge Fish Preservation and Angling Society.
  • For eateries, there are pubs on the riverside that you can stop off at which serve great family-friendly food and drinks. If you think you may become hungry during the boat trip, you can bring some snacks. Try not to get them in the water as the river is known for being clean and preserving life. Many of the boats have refreshments on sale, too, so don't worry if you forget!
  • Many of the boats have toilet facilities on-board, and you can always make use of the pub toilet facilities, which will be better for those with access needs and baby changing facilities.
  • It is not recommended to take wheelchairs on to the boats as there is a risk of the boat tipping.
  • There is a maximum of 12 people per boat.
  • The tour is only provided in English.
  • On request, storage for mobility aids can be provided.
  • It is important to note that access to the punt station is via a flight of steps.
  • Assistance dogs are welcome, and water is available for them on request.

Getting there

  • You can take return tours of the world-famous College Backs from either Scudamore's Mill Lane Punting Station,  which is located at the end of Mill Lane. Or you can make a return tour from Scudamore's Magdalene Bridge Punting Station (Cambridge CB5 8AB): Opposite the Prezzo Restaurant at the Quayside on Bridge Street.
  • You can access both of these points from Cambridge train station and then get a train from there on the U Universal train.
  • There are paid-for car parking spaces near CB2 1RS and CB5 8AB which are both tour starting points.

More amazing things to do