Live updates

Father's epic Skye challenge from Oxfordshire

A father is looking for people to join him on all or part of his journey as he takes on an epic fundraising challenge this summer in memory of his son.

Skye Hall died last August, aged five, after being diagnosed with medulloblastoma, an aggressive and cancerous brain tumour.

His father, Andrew Hall, 43, from Oxford, has organised 2Skye4Skye, a challenge which will see people travel from Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire to the highest point on the Isle of Skye in Scotland to raise money for the charity that he and his wife, Sally, established in Skye's name - Blue Skye Thinking.

Skye Hall Credit: PA

The 636-mile journey, taking in the Peak District, the Lake District, Loch Lomond, and Scotland's west coast, will include a combination of cycling, kayaking and hill walking.

Andrew said: "I wanted to do something special to celebrate Skye's life and have spent a long time thinking about what that should be.

"Then a very dear friend, Ed Blagrove, announced that he would like to do events in 2015 totalling the distance from Oxfordshire to the Isle of Skye.

Having done a few crazy things in the past myself, it seemed logical to take up the challenge and travel to the Isle of Skye itself.

"We will be departing from Blenheim Palace at 10am on Saturday 25 July and are looking to complete the journey in 10 days.

"This will not only be a physical challenge, but one filled with emotion for me, but I am sure Skye would have loved to have been part of this, as he loved the outdoors. We are looking for people to join us for some or all of the adventure and hope to get a good group together to take part."

The first day will see cyclists ride north through Oxfordshire and into Warwickshire passing through Nuneaton and on to the spa town of Buxton.

The journey continues through to Manchester, and on to Lancaster and the Lakes, where the cyclists will swap their bikes for a paddle, and kayak the length of Lake Windermere to Ambleside, where they will once again hop into the saddle and continue through to Carlisle and cross the border into Scotland.

The journey continues through Kilmarnock and Glasgow and follows the bank of Loch Lomond to its northernmost tip and then winds in the Scottish hills towards Fort William, where it is envisaged that Ben Nevis will be conquered en route to Skye.

Once reaching Skye, the final challenge will be to summit Sgurr Alasdair, the highest point on the Isle of Skye.

All the money raised will go into research into new treatments for childhood cancer. The charity's next goal is to reach £200,000 to put into place a post-doctoral researcher for three years.


Chinese tourist campaign launched at Blenheim Palace

Video. It's one of the country's finest stately homes. Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is hoping to play a major role in attracting Chinese tourists to Britain, a country they have traditionally seen as too 'wet and cold.'

Today, a campaign was launched at the Palace to make us the number one destination in Europe for Chinese visitors.

Rachel Hepworth reports.

Blenheim Palace going green with hydropower plans

The palace is trying to become one of Britain's greenest Credit: Eye Ubiquitous/Press Association Images

Blenheim Palace, in Oxfordshire, will install a £180,000 hydropower scheme to generate clean electricity. The palace has teamed up with UK renewables firm Hallidays Hydropower to install the "Archimedean screw" design of hydropower as part of measures make the palace one of Britain's greenest.

The technology will be fitted on the River Glyme, at Bladon Dam, within the "Capability" Brown landscape surrounding the palace, and will generate enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of 18 homes as well as cutting carbon emissions.

It is expected to have a lifespan of 40 years, and subsidies for electricity generated from small-scale renewables, known as feed-in tariffs, will pay an estimated £12,600 a year for the scheme over the first 20 years.


More than 1,000 people brave cold for charity run

Chef Raymond Blanc dons scarf for start of OX5 race Credit: Steve Cottrell

More than a thousand people have braved the cold, chilly weather today to take part in this year's OX5 charity run at Blenheim Palace. The event is in aid of the Oxford Children's Hospital. The chef Raymond Blanc was there to start the runners off on their way around the course.

Load more updates