VISITORS to an historic attraction have donated more than £1,000 so search and rescue volunteers can do winter training in the Scottish Highlands.

Raby Castle opened on New Year's Day for the first time this year and hosted a funrun and dog walk in its grounds.

Almost 3,500 people visited the castle, near Staindrop, and more than 100 took part in the dog walk and 60 in the run.

A cash collection on the day raised £1,155 for Raby’s charity of the year – Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team.

The money will be help fund a winter training expedition in the Cairngorms for 19 volunteers, who train regularly in the North Pennines, so they are well prepared if and when they are called out in harsh weather conditions in the region.

Claire Jones, head of leisure and tourism at Raby Estates, said: "Our first ever New Year's Day opening was a huge success.

"There was a fantastic turnout for the fun run and dog walk and we have raised lots of money for Teesdale Mountain Rescue thanks to everyone's generosity.

"We hope they won’t need to use the training but we’re delighted to be able to help such an important organisation in even a small way."

Steve Owers, team leader at Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team, said: "Raby has always supported the team, from its conception 50 years ago.

"We weren't expecting that donation but really appreciate it.

"Around half of the team are going to do some winter training and the money raised will go towards that.

"It was really helpful to us to have Raby's support, that it raised awareness of our work with more than 3,000 people and we really appreciate the donations."

The team provides a search and rescue service across County Durham, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It responds to requests by the police to a range of incidents, from injured or lost people in the hills to vulnerable missing people in urban settings. All 50 or so volunteers have jobs and meet almost all of their own expenses.