TWO men will set off from the coast of southern Ireland on Saturday for an epic 600km three-week canoe marathon, all in the name of raising awareness for greener travel.

University of Cumbria lecturer, Richard Ensoll and fellow boatman Tom Bradshaw-Dickinson have been training in their spare time to tackle the 600km journey from the Irish Sea to Kirkstone Pass.

The part-time seamen will start the voyage in an open canoe from the southwest coast of Ireland before heading to Dublin - then crossing 200km of tricky water dominated by busy shipping lanes.

The university lecturer spoke of his excitement for the challenge, but stated there was a fundamental reason for the three-week trip.

Mr Ensoll said: "We're excited and nervous.

"In times of environmental degradation and fragmented relationships, we hope this expedition will increase the understanding of what extended canoe journeys on our doorsteps might bring.

"Perhaps we can influence outdoor providers to do something similar with their clients, encouraging high-quality experiences, which are local, low carbon and deeply connected to place."

The journey will continue after the pair arrive at Ulverston via the town’s canal.

The paddling pair also plan to finish the course at Mr Bradshaw-Dickinson’s home at Lazonby, near Penrith, a journey which will take them over Kirkstone Pass, climbing more than 400m.

University of Cumbria students are accompanying them on stretches of the journey.

These students will help drag canoes over the steep mountain road.

However, the Irish Sea leg will be done unsupported.

Both of the excursionist hobbyists are experienced canoeists, and similar adventures they have teamed up for include a loop from Ulverston via a carry over Coniston Old Man, paddling down the Duddon Valley, around Walney Island, Barrow and across Morecambe Bay.

Mr Ensoll said his canoe commute from Ulverston to University of Cumbria’s Ambleside campus was different and it took a whole weekend to get to work on Monday morning.

This new mission will bring its own challenges as the pair will face potentially high waves and tides in their exposed 17ft craft.

“With two long sea crossings, each one will need 20 hours of good weather,” added Mr Ensoll.

“We could find ourselves on the east coast of Ireland for a week waiting for the right conditions.

“But it’s great to have the backing from our students and I look forward to sharing the findings of what promises to be a challenging quest on many fronts.”

The pair are expecting to hit the English coast at Walney around July.