A mountaineering expert from the district is one of a crack team of Royal Marines spearheading an epic fundraising challenge.

Lance Corporal Matt Robb is among 19 Marines tackling the first part of a 4,000-mile trek to mark the 350th anniversary of the famous Corps.

Way north of the Arctic Circle, they are paving the way for other members of the force to join in the ski-ing, sailing, canoeing and running from the North of Norway to the South of Spain, back to the UK and then across England, Scotland and Wales.

By the time they reach London in July, they will have covered about 4,000 miles and hope to have raised at least £500,000 for a charitable trust.

Lce Cpl Robb, of Birstall, said: “We are still in the initial phase of the challenge and this is perhaps the toughest leg of all.”

The 27-year-old joined the Corps in 2009 and is taking part in the Royal Marines 1664 Challenge on behalf of his unit, 43 Commando, in Faslane, Scotland.

He said: “Temperatures have been down to around -18C, but as Marines we are trained to operate in various environments, including the Arctic.”

By the end of the five-month challenge, more than 2,500 men will have taken part, and six of them will have seen it through from the start.

Lce Cpl Robb is one of those six who started the ski-ing section two weeks ago. And the squad got a boost in the form of a Sea King helicopter whose crew flew out to meet the skiers as they crossed a frozen lake.

“Places like the Arctic are like a second home to us,” said Lce Cpl Robb.

Overall, the Marines will ski 1,034 miles, sail 1,664 miles, canoe across the English Channel and run over 1,000 miles.

Their effort ties in with the 350th anniversary of the Royal Marines forming in 1664.

It has around 7,200 personnel, with about 40 per cent of Britain’s Special Forces originating from the Marines.