East London Boats has three punts and two canoes in their fleet. Hire of a punt costs £18 per hour, seating up to 6 people with the all-important pole, two paddles and life jackets included. The canal route is limited as punts can only go between Mile End Lock to Top Lock by Victoria Park, about two miles, but that's enough to let you see east London from a very different point of view. Punting seems fun for everyone: we enjoyed impromptu tuneless seranades, inaccurate geography lessons ("Look! It's a gondola! Like in Paris!") and countless cheerful waves from passersby who seemed to enjoy our punt as much as us. Punting is a very elegant and relaxed way to enjoy London's waterways, it's a taste of an out of London activity while staying very firmly in London - it's a brilliant idea from East London Boats.
Advice for the virgin punter:
- go barefoot when you stand with the pole: you'll have better grip on the deck
- you punt by dropping the pole straight down into the water, then push it behind you, hand over hand, then draw it out to do it again
- if the pole gets stuck, LET GO OF IT. Or else you will fall in. Use the paddles to steer back to retrieve it
- prepare to get canal water in your armpits and elsewhere. Wear something you don't mind soaking in canal water or...
- ... book a chauffeur and let someone else do the work
Have a punt. And bring your own Cornettos.
Punt hire from East London Boats, weekends and Bank Holidays only. For more information, go to the East London Boats website.