Tayside and Central Scotland

Explorer to row across Scotland in polar preparation

Craig Mathieson with collapsible canoe Image copyright Craig Mathieson
Image caption Craig Mathieson carrying the collapsible canoe he's set to row across Scotland

A Scottish explorer is set to paddle across Scotland in a collapsible canoe.

Craig Mathieson, the first ever Explorer in Residence of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, is to undertake the five-day expedition with his son.

The 45-year-old is using the expedition as training before leading ten North Lanarkshire pupils to Arctic Greenland next year.

Each "Polar Academy" pupil will have to haul their own 40kg sledge.

Mr Mathieson, of Bo'ness, has led various expeditions to the South and North poles in the past, and in 2006 he trained Christ Struthers, a "troubled" 15-year-old from Falkirk, to successfully haul his own sledge to the North Pole.

Ahead of next year's expedition, he is limbering up by rowing 70 miles down Scottish waterways in a 16.5ft PVC collapsible "Ally" canoe with his son Jake.

The pair will camp en route as they negotiate the likes of the Caledonian Canal and the length of Loch Ness, rowing for up to eight hours a day, starting from Fort William and finishing in Inverness.

Image copyright Craig Mathieson
Image caption Mr Mathieson and his son will row the 16.5ft canoe for up to 8 hours a day

Former military man Mr Mathieson set up the Polar Academy, a registered charity, last year.

He believes that exposing youths to the mental and physical demands of preparing for and undertaking Arctic exploration can have life-changing benefits.

Five pupils have already been selected for the ten-day expedition next year, with five more to be picked in July.

Mr Mathieson said: "The Polar Academy is all about giving Scotland's 'invisible' school pupils, those who otherwise just drift aimlessly through their school days, a way to discover the confidence and self-belief to fulfil their true potential both within and beyond the school gates.

"It's an exciting period for all involved with the Polar Academy, a unique expedition that will see pupils across Scotland able to track our progress in Greenland and to hear first-hand from the young participants once they return to Scotland.

"The water-borne expedition in the Ally canoe across Scotland with Jake is an opportunity for us to share the excitement and challenge of a family expedition and to give my own son further exposure to the mental and physical demands of undertaking an unsupported expedition."

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