Heavy snow covered the North-East of England leaving many roads in treacherous conditions with up to four inches of snow in some areas of Northumberland and County Durham.

Motorists were warned to take care while driving as some roads are only passable with care.

Today's heavy snow showers continued to blanket the region.

With the weather expected to worsen and blizzard conditions set to sweep the region, a spokesman for the Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents said today that people needed to be extremely wary of sledging in snow.

Society spokesman Roger Vincent said: ''People should not travel head first and always choose a safe place to sledge.

''They should make sure it is in deep snow and that there are no obstructions like trees which they could hit.

''We would recommend that people only sledge in daylight so that they can see any possible obstructions in their way.

''They also need to know that they have plenty of room to stop at the end of their run.''

Newcastle and Chelsea footballers got an early taste of the dreadful conditions during their FA Cup tie at St James's Park, yesterday as the players battled not only against each other, but against snow that fell throughout the game.

Ground staff had spent the hours before the match clearing the pitch of an earlier snowfall so the game could go ahead.

Britain is bracing itself for a week of freezing weather with sleet and snow showers predicted across much of the country.

Joanne Grimshaw, from the PA WeatherCentre, said: ''The main problem will be a drop in temperature in eastern areas overnight bringing ice and frost - this could cause problems for rush hour traffic.''

It is expected to last until next weekend, making it the longest cold spell this year.

The Highways Agency has advised drivers to be prepared with a ''winter weather kit'', including warm clothes, a hot drink, de-icer, a torch and a spade.