DRAGON boaters in Bradford have successfully finished a unique charity challenge by paddled the full length of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

The Trans-Pennine Dragon Boat Challenge aims saw two 250kg, 12-metre boats, each containing 16 paddlers, one helm and one drummer, negotiate 128 miles of the canal, conquering all obstacles on route including 91 locks, numerous swing bridges and several tunnels.

The boats were staffed by oarsfolk from the Bradford Barracudas, based at Bradford Council’s Doe Park Water Activity Centre in Denholme and The Crusaders Dragon Boat Club from Crosby, Merseyside.

Cash raised will be shared between the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Joanne Dodds' "Spread a Smile" Appeal and medical courier service, the Merseyside and Cheshire Blood Bikes.

Organiser John Galt said crews were helped by the arrivals who joined during the seven-day paddlathon to allow people to rest during the odyssey from Liverpool to Leeds.

"It was a real adventure, a really interesting journey with challenges such as swing bridges which didn't work and at one point near the end at Leeds we came across police carrying out a search of the canal, who very kindly let us through when they heard how far we'd come," Mr Galt said.

"We have had fantastic support all the way along - the generosity of people has just been amazing.

"When we've pulled in at canalside pubs we've been given free tea and coffee the whole route."

The Challenge rowers heaved to, left the canal and joined in the Lord Mayor's dragon boat festival on the River Aire at Roberts Park on Saturday, which drew huge crowds.

They then completed the last stretch to Leeds the next day.

"The weather was fantastic and we have to say a huge thank you to everyone in Bradford who made that such a success," said Mr Galt, who helped organise the event.

"We think that alone may have raised more than £21,000 towards the Mayor's Appeal.

"Monies from the Challenge's sponsorship forms and on line donations are now starting to come in and so we're really hoping the grand total will be much, much more than that, fingers crossed."