A DURHAM teacher and a former paratrooper last week completed a daring mission to swim from the Northumberland coast to the Farne Islands.

Sol Walker, a teacher at St Leonard's RC School, and former paratrooper Stuart Dowding swam from the seaside town of Seahouses to the islands.

According to local legend, many people have attempted to cross the treacherous stretch of the North Sea to the Farnes, where St Cuthbert lived in Anglo-Saxon times, but nobody has ever succeeded.

Once the duo, both from Durham, completed their gruelling exploit, they celebrated with fish and chips.

Mr Walker said: "The cold was almost certainly the hardest factor without a doubt.

"We were swimming quite slowly to try and conserve the energy and heat in our bodies. We were both quite close to hypothermia but we had lots of nice warm drinks and sugar bars when we finished."

The entire swim took nearly four hours and they were guided by two navigators on board a support ship, who helped them to avoid dangerous currents.

The swimmers raised about £2,000 for St Leonard's school rugby club.