A MAN known for taking on huge swimming challenges has taken on his toughest test yet.

Hexham’s Fenwick Ridley is attempting to swim up the River Tyne from Newcastle to Kielder, battling strong currents and underwater obstacles along the way.

Fenwick, who runs outdoor swim operator H2o trails, has been spending up to 12 hours a day in the water, while also pulling a raft stocked with essential kit behind him on the 60-mile swim. He has been supported by wetsuit manufacturer Blue Seventy and raft creators Ruck Raft.

Speaking by the river as he swam up it, Fenwick’s fiancée, Jenny Sandiford, said it was not an easy task – most people would be swept away by the current.

She said: “He’s done marathon swims all over the country, particularly in the lakes, but he’s got a bit bored.

“He’s going to go as close to Kielder as he can get, just because he can. He’s massively experienced in the water.

“He’s always wanted to do a big challenge and it’s the only chance he’s got to do it because he’s so busy.

“I was really worried about him until I saw what he can manage. He’s 20 stone and about a metre wide at the shoulder.”

A support team is also in place on the riverbank to make sure Fenwick does not get into difficulty.

Fenwick had initially targeted Friday, August 23 as his finishing date.

However, slower progress than expected means he will have to finish the challenge in early September.

Fenwick has a Just Giving page set up for his adventure swim, with all proceeds going to Cancer Research UK. He has already raised more than £1,260.

The fund-raising is dedicated to his late friend Keith Garvin, who taught Fenwick to kayak and canoe.

Donations can be made at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/fenwick-ridley