AN INTREPID group of teenage girls set sail today on an adventure that would shiver the timbers of any landlubber.

Eight girls, who are cared for by Durham County Council social services department, set off in a 72ft boat, the Hartlepool Renaissance, at 10am today with four staff from the council's education and social services department and three crew members.

The journey will be no luxury cruise, because the young mariners be expected to get up at 4am to help to sail the boat, and will also help to navigate, cook and clean.

The team of girls, aged between 12 and 16, come from across County Durham and have taken part in several team building exercises in preparation for the event.

Dawn Cook, from the council's education department, said: "The girls have really gelled together as a group and made good friends.

"There has definitely been a change in them during all the team building. They are more confident. When they first met us they were quite shy, but they are like friends now."

One of the crew, 16-year-old Kirsty, from Peterlee, said: "I'm really excited. I'm looking forward to being at sea and on the boat. I wouldn't mind climbing the mast!"

The exact route of the voyage will be depend on the weather, but the crew leave Largs, near Glasgow and travel along the west coast for ten days