HMS Ledbury visits Gibraltar

The crew of HMS Ledbury have run from the minehunter to the summit of Gibraltar (2.7 miles, climb 1,300 feet) in time-honoured RN tradition.

The small and staunchly British overseas territory was the first port of call on an 6,000-mile epic journey from Portsmouth to Bahrain - and the last British soil the 40 sailors will step on for six months.

The imposing sight of the Rock was most welcome to the crew after a very lumpy five-day crossing of the Bay of Biscay in the UK's oldest warship.

The minehunter had 48 hours to recover in Gib - but squeezed in a string of public engagements and sport activities from the obligatory dawn rock race in fancy dress (rewarded at the top of the Rock by spectacular views and, more importantly, bacon butties), to a seven-a-side football match against the naval base side.

"It was a tough game for a tired and worn down team," said mine warfare specialist and defender AB(WS) Ed 'Dutchy' Holland. "Nevertheless the crew's fighting spirit was demonstrated throughout the game, though sadly not in the final score!"

It is not common for minehunters to visit, so it was a pleasure to represent the mine warfare community at a number of events

Lieutenant Commander Jim Harkin, Commanding Officer of HMS Ledbury

And the ship's cycling team, the Ledbury Riders, hit the roads of the southern Iberian peninsula for a 50-mile ride into the Andalusian hills.

The visit to Gibraltar coincided with the territory's 100th anniversary celebrations marking women serving in the Royal Navy with a VIP reception at the Governor's residence and a party in the high street.

"Gibraltar will always be a favourite run ashore destination and my team certainly maximised our brief time in port," said Lieutenant Commander Jim Harkin, Ledbury's Commanding Officer.

"It is not common for minehunters to visit, so it was a pleasure to represent the mine warfare community at a number of events."

Ledbury is making her way east to relieve her Hunt-class sister HMS Chiddingfold who's spent nearly four years in the Gulf as part of the four-strong RN minehunting force permanently stationed in the Middle East.