High school pupils to embark on an exciting expedition

Fourteen students will attempt to paddle up the Great Glen from Fort William to Inverness in a birlinn boat.

High school pupils to embark on an exciting expedition PR

Fourteen high school students will embark on a five-day Scottish expedition organised by The Polar Academy.

Due to travel restrictions in 2021, The Polar Academy charity has had to postpone its planned trip to Greenland for its annual Polar Expedition with pupils from Bell Baxter High School in Cupar, Fife.

The usual voyage has been replaced by an expedition closer to home.

Fourteen pupils aged 15-17 from the school will be the first group of under 18s to attempt to paddle up the Great Glen from Fort William to Inverness in a birlinn boat lent to them by the GalGael Trust.

The trip will take five days in the traditional boat, which is made by hand and has no mechanical instruments on board, so all navigation will be done traditionally.

The group will be covering 60 miles in five days with eight rowers at a time taking it in turns to row the Orcuan, a 30ft wooden vessel.

Craig Mathieson, head of the Polar Academy, said:  “Having completed the Great Glen in a Canadian canoe with my son some years ago, I am thrilled to be sharing a similar experience with this amazing group of young people.

“These kids have been through real adversity with everything that has gone on, but I’m so proud of the team they have become.

“Due to Covid-19 this group has had so many ups and downs and to finally have a tangible expedition for them is brilliant.

“This trip presents an amazing opportunity to undertake a voyage like no other that will make Scottish history come to life.

“The challenge is daunting and will test each one of our young people, but I have full faith that if they pull together as a team, it’ll be plain sailing.

“As ever we are reliant on the magnificent supporters of the Polar Academy to make these life-changing trips possible.

“I would encourage any businesses or individuals to come forward to help us do more.”

Gehan Macleod, from GalGael Trust, said: “Building Orcuan was something of a wild journey into the unknown for us nearly 20 years ago and we’re delighted that she’ll now take a group of young people on their own journeys of discovery through the amazing work of The Polar Academy.

“Rites of passage have always been an important dimension in our work and I’ve no doubt the voyage will provide them with just that.”

Eve Gill, 16, from Bell Baxter High School, said: “At the start we were just scared individuals.

“The Polar Academy has changed me and my friends into stronger, more confident people.

“Now we get to celebrate that growth by going on a trip with each other as a team.”