SUMMER in the city will soon have an elegant new attraction to offer visitors and residents alike – punting on the River Avon.

Passengers will be able to relax in style aboard the purpose-built Spirit of Salisbury, with champagne an optional extra, as they take in the idyllic views through the water meadows to the Cathedral Close.

They’ll be steered along by one of three enterprising teenagers – Theo Daniel, Cameron Wishart and Dominic Pemberton, all 19.

Theo and Cameron are former Bishop Wordsworth’s pupils from Harnham, while Dominic studies at Surrey University with Cameron.

The trio will launch their venture on Saturday at the Rose & Crown in Harnham, and will also operate from the Grasmere Hotel, going upriver to Arundells and back.

If there is enough interest, they hope to offer punting at weekends throughout the year, with tailor-made excursions tied in with events such as fireworks displays and festivals, and romantic trips for couples using the hotels’ wedding services.

The boys credit Cameron’s father Gavin with the brainwave behind the business after he came across old photographs of punting in Salisbury at the library.

With backing from their families and friends, they invested £4,000 in their 21ft craft, hand-built by Stephen Lowings at St Neots, near Cambridge, where punting on the Cam is a lucrative business.

“It’s such a beautiful boat,” said Theo, who takes up an engineering apprenticeship at QinetiQ after the summer holidays. “We hadn’t actually ever punted before and we had to do a bit of a crash course. It’s not as easy as it looks, but Stephen gave us a lot of tips.”

The boys found no shortage of volunteer passengers while they perfected their skills and now, fully insured, they are ready to offer 45-minute trips for five people, with a special saver rate for families.

They are also seeking a landing point alongside the Close so they can offer trips combining punting with entry to its historic attractions.

To find out more go to salisbury or phone 07538 000597.