Fenland welcomes Cambridge to Oxford punters

STUDENTS punting on the river is usually associated with the university city of Cambridge but today it was the turn of the sleepy Fenland waterways.

Residents stopped to stare as four Cambridge students punted along the Middle Level navigations on their way from Cambridge to Oxford as part of a huge fundraising effort.

The intrepid four set off from Jesus Lock on Saturday and by mid morning today were taking a well-earned break at Fox’s Marina in March.

The 12-day long punt will raise thousands of pounds to support Help for Heroes with the 200-mile route taking them along the Cam, the Great Ouse, the Middle Level, the River Nene, the Grand Union canal and finally the River Cherwell.

On the way they will do battle with 113 locks and a mile-long tunnel and resist the temptation of the many riverside pubs.

The second-year students, Toby Dickens, Rebecka Kiff, Andy Marshall and Karl Williams, aim to punt 20 miles a day and have already passed their �2,000 target.

Toby Dickens said: “The real challenge is the very impracticality of punting. Doing 20 miles a day is quite tough but we are used to doing a lot of punting at Cambridge.”

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Andy said they had chosen the Help the Heroes charity for many reasons, but wanted to help those who sustain physical and psychological injuries that can affect them for the rest of their lives. He said: “The commitment shown by our armed forces to doing their duty must be matched by ours, to provide the assistance needed by those wounded in our service.”

The four are sleeping on the punt under a cover erected on tent poles and as well as being the qualified lifeguard, Rebecka is chief cook serving up some energy giving meals on a camping stove.

On hand to welcome the punters was Paula Syred, MD of the marina who pledged a donation for the charity. She said: “It is certainly the first time we have had a punt in the marina and it is not the sort of thing you would usually see in March.”

For online donations and map go to: https://www.bmycharity.com/punt

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