BIRTHDAY celebrations were put on ice for an Aldbourne man who trekked for nine hours to catch a flight for his 30th in Iceland.

Robert Harland loaded up a sledge with his suitcase and set out from Aldbourne on Thursday night, ignoring weather warnings and taking on Storm Emma.

Mr Harland, who grew up in Aldbourne, took the trip to celebrate his milestone birthday with lifelong friends. His plan was to walk through snow and ice to Marlborough by Friday afternoon where he was set to drive to Heathrow airport.

Although their original flight was cancelled, they formulated a plan that meant he had to walk through the night to Ogbourne St George, and carry on his journey on Friday morning with friend Matthew Wren to Marlborough.

The pair walked along the old railway line between Ogbourne St George and Marlborough for more than six hours. As more cars got stuck on the A346, just a few metres away Mr Harland was dragging his suitcase on a sledge and making the slow commute to Marlborough by foot.

The determined pair reached Marlborough and were able to drive to the airport with friends Robert Hickin and Andrew Neale, catch their flight and start celebrating in Iceland. Mr Harland enjoyed his birthday on Monday and has been reliving the expedition all week.

He said: “I slipped on black ice on Tuesday, which I think has possibly written my car off. Our flight was booked for Friday but in the meantime we got snowed in.

“It was touch and go as the weather was changing very quickly. We didn’t know what the roads were like outside of Marlborough even once we had got there.

“I set off on Thursday night in the dark, with my sledge and set out for Ogbourne St George.

“When I first got out of Aldbourne it is just really steep hills and I thought, I just don’t know if I am going to be able to do this, but it was totally worth it.

“I slipped over a couple of times but was generally fine.

“I only saw about three cars the whole trip. When I got there I had about five hours sleep before we set out again.

“Once we got to Marlborough the rest was quite straightforward. Iceland really has been amazing.

“I didn’t let my other friends know until after I had got to Ogbourne St George.”

Mr Harland works for an antique and interior design company in Marlborough and returned to Wiltshire yesterday.