A South Molton man is now halfway through an epic journey to ski the length of Norway and raise money to combat the blight of landmines.VIEW DAVE LEANING'S latest video diary from Norway >>>

A South Molton man is now halfway through an epic journey to ski the length of Norway and raise money to combat the blight of landmines.

The Gazette reported in January how since New Years Eve ex Royal Marine Dave Leaning had been on a perilous 1,600-mile trek from the southern most point of the country to its extreme north and the Arctic Circle, to raise both money and awareness for the Mines Advisory Group.

The 28-year-old is now less than a week away from the Arctic Circle but the going has hardly been easy - "extreme" would be a better choice - and Dave has traversed treacherous frozen lakes, thin ice, deadly ravines and exposed mountainsides.

After seeing action in Afghanistan, with the misery and destruction landmines can cause, Dave was determined to brave this trek to try and help those who work to rid the world of the menace.

In the process he has suffered excruciating ankle and shoulder injuries, made all the worse by constant hiking and skiing.

And he is at least nine days behind schedule, with a race against time to reach his goal of Nordkapp, 500 kilometres away, before the snows melt.

"Theoretically it's still possible but I have to consider this might go on until May," he told the Gazette.

"What I've learned from this is a plan is just a list of things which don't happen - nothing goes according to plan, especially on this journey."

After successfully negotiating some very tight spots, Dave lost time when he injured his ankle - not on a forlorn mountainside but by slipping on an icy road as he dialled on his mobile phone.

"I spent the next few moments bellowing and rolling about on the road in agony, my first thought was I had broken my leg - game over, do not pass go, wait three months for it to heal, and come back," he said.

But the generous Norwegian family he had been hosted by the night before came and collected him. The next day a doctor diagnosed soft tissue damage, strapped the foot and prescribed painkillers.

The ankle has improved, although it is not helped by carrying a heavy pack every step of the way, but now Dave has crossed the border into Sweden, using an ancient route called the Kongsladen (King's Road) which runs parallel to his original route and offers faster skiing.

The weather is becoming ever more glorious and sunny, which brings its own dangers, including a high risk of snow blindness.

In the morning the temperature is down to minus 20 degrees - "enough to freeze your nose hairs" said Dave - and he expects it to plummet further as he travels north.

Other, as yet unseen, dangers include wolves, bear and lynx, as well as the perils of skiing in "flat light conditions" which result in zero visibility and endless counts of falling over.

Through all this though he has received fantastic support from the Norwegian and Swedish peoples:

"If I come to a town and ask people if I can sleep in their barn or garage, nine times out of 10 they insist I must have a bed, give me a hot meal and breakfast in the morning," he said.

"The hospitality I have received has just been incredible."

It is such kindness plus words and messages of support from home which encourage Dave to continue in the face of sometimes overwhelming obstacle:

"Had I known how hard this world be I'm not sure I would have done it," he admitted.

"When I returned from Afghanistan people asked what it was like and I would try to tell them, but it was impossible to explain - this is like that.

"Sometimes it's just impossible, being exhausted from start to finish and then finding the will power to get up and do it all again the next day.

"But now I am here I am just going to crack on with it and hopefully before the snow melts, as I would like to finish this on skis."

Dave would like everyone back home in North Devon and across the UK to help make his efforts a success.

His online diary is updated daily with a humorous, touching and sometimes dramatic account of Dave's experiences.

Visit www.skinorway.org.uk to view the latest diary entry, photographs and videos or make a donation directly to the charity, or to help support Dave's journey.

VIEW DAVE LEANING'S latest video diary from Norway >>>