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Two Canoe Across Scotland

The Hugh Baird University Centre hosted a talk last week by outdoor adventure specialists, Matt Giblin and Nick Cunliffe.

‘Two Canoe Across Scotland’ saw them recounting tales of their epic trip across Scotland by canoe. They entertained an audience which included undergraduates from the University Centre’s Foundation Degree in Outdoor Adventure Studies and BA (Hons) Top up in Outdoor Leadership, both validated by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

The pair’s eight day journey took them from Mallaig on the West Coast of Scotland to Perth on the East Coast, paddling the great lochs and rivers of Scotland. Writing a blog throughout their trip, they told of the challenges of portages through highland wilderness and paddles through dramatic scenery, accompanied by typically Scottish weather! Their planned route covered 250 kilometres of sea lochs, freshwater lochs, river systems and portages. Taking inspiration from Andy Hall’s and Ray Goodwin’s 1991 crossing via this route, they aimed to complete the distance in similar style.

As a team, Matt and Nick run coaching company, Kayak Essentials, offering sea kayaking coaching courses and resources. As well as an extensive background in outdoor adventure and canoeing, Matt is also Faculty Lead for Education, Access and Creative Industries and Course Leader at the Hugh Baird University Centre for the Foundation Degree in Outdoor Adventure Studies and the BA (Hons) Top up in Outdoor Leadership.

Nick is an active kayaker/coach, based in North Wales and has been paddling for more than 25 years. He says he owes many rewarding experiences to his involvement in the sport. A British Canoeing level 5 Coach, specialising in sea kayaking, he has plenty of experience, including ten years at the National Watersports Centre for Wales and ten years with his own British Canoeing-approved adventure centre.

Chris Barlow attended Two Canoe Across Scotland and said afterwards:

Listening to Nick and Matt talk with such passion about their trip is always useful. They brought to life the highs and lows of the challenge, from the reality of battling with the harsh elements and often difficult terrain to the challenges they faced when things didn’t go to plan.

Being an undergraduate who progressed from the BTEC Level 3 Outdoor Education course at Hugh Baird onto the Foundation Degree and now that I’m doing the BA (Hons) Top up in Outdoor Leadership, I’ve been lucky enough to meet Nick on several occasions and benefit from hearing about his experiences. Matt’s always been there as well to offer us support and having the chances to go and see amazing places and experience them first hand is what makes this course exceptional. It is a real advantage for the undergraduates at the Hugh Baird University Centre that the lecturers are sharing not just their technical and academic knowledge, but also their first-hand experiences of outdoor adventure expeditions.

You can read more about Matt and Nick’s adventures by following their blog at

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