A TEAM of Swindon vets have crossed the icy wastes of Lapland to raise money for an animal charity.

Alison Austen, David Prince and Toni Stevens from Drove Veterinary Hospital travelled by husky on a 150-mile trip through the wild wastes of Sweden and Norway to raise £5,000 for Blue Cross Animal Hospitals.

The group had to endure temperatures of minus 34C on the week-long trip and longed for the taste of vegetables having eaten nothing but boil-in-the-bag meals.

But despite the hardships they say they wouldn't mind doing it all again.

Toni, a veterinary nurse in charge of Drove's pharmacy, said: "It was an amazing, unforgettable experience, a big challenge, but I would do it again tomorrow if I could.

"We went to Tromso in northern Norway and on the first day we were introduced to our huskies. We had 160 to choose from, then they told us the commands for go, stop, left and right and that was it we were left to get on with it."

"In the morning we would find our boots frozen solid and the laces would be as rigid as pencils. But the dogs worked non-stop they just wanted to keep going and going.

"On one occasion we hit a hill and the dogs couldn't pull all the weight so we had to get off and push the sledge in thigh-deep snow, and that was really hard work.

"At night all the teams would camp together, and we all ate our boil-in-the-bag meals watching the stars and the Northern Lights.

"But by the end of the week we were all craving fresh vegetables and we couldn't believe it when we came across this co-operative in the middle of nowhere and it was a relief to eat something fresh.

On the final day the team encountered a whiteout blizzard but it didn't last and they were soon back on track for the finish.

All the teams on the challenge were guinea pigs for this event, as it was the first time such a challenge had been put together by the Blue Cross, and it is now expected to become an annual event "But it was all a big success, and everyone completed the challenge," added Toni.

The team have raised the money for Blue Cross Animal Hospitals, one of which is located near Burford.