CYCLING through the south of France in brilliant sunshine and camping out by the canals might not sound like hard work, but former Emmerdale star Lyndon Ogbourne would beg to differ.

The 29-year-old Swindonian has been on his bike between Bordeaux and Nice in a bid to cycle around 700 miles in 10 days for children’s charity Once Upon A Smile, which offers respite breaks to sick youngsters and their families.

After a gruelling five days of pedalling more than more than 62 miles a day and having nothing but a sleeping bag for shelter at night, Lyndon, most famous for his role as Nathan Wylde in the ITV soap opera, said it had dawned on him the scale of the challenge he set himself.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done – I’m a broken man,” the former Swindon College student said.

“I didn’t think it would be easy and I wanted something that would really push me but it is incredibly difficult challenge. The weather has been very hot too which has only made it harder.

“I had already decided to do the challenge a little while ago but I was inspired by Bradley Wiggins’ effort in the Tour de France.

“It’s great too because all the people are really nice and stop to chat and when I tell them what I’m doing they say I’m mad.”

As a patron for the charity, set up by his pal and fellow actor Danny Miller, Lyndon said it was visits to children’s hospitals that spurned him on to raise the money.

”I’m hoping to raise around £3,000 and I know how much that will be able to get for them,” he said. “The challenge is hard but when you hear some the stories from the children it was a no-brainer.

“I also need to say thank you to Cadence Performance Cycling who helped me out with a bike and with the training – they really put me through my paces.”

There will be little rest for Lyndon upon his return to the UK as he is set to go straight into rehearsals for a new West End production under the working title The Diner, which is set to open in October at Trafalgar Studios, near Trafalgar Square.

Follow his journey on Twitter visit @LyndonOgbourne and to sponsor him visit