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People looking to improve their fitness this summer are being encouraged to participate in a range of free activities across the Durham Dales and Derwentside.

In partnership with England Athletics and County Durham Sport, Durham County Council is running further Couch to 5K programmes which begin later this month.

Aimed at getting absolute beginners into running, the plan starts with a mix of running and walking to gradually build up fitness and stamina.

The courses will start on Monday, 24 April at Woodhouse Close Leisure Centre at 6pm, 6pm on Tuesday, 25 April at Shildon Leisure Centre and on Friday, 5 May outside the Civic Centre in Crook at 9.15am.

Another course will also start on Tuesday, 9 May at 5.30pm from Leadgate Community Centre in Consett.

A weekly walking group has also been set up, beginning at Teesdale Leisure Centre on Tuesday, 25 April at 9.30am.

And for those less keen on running, courses are also taking place to inspire people to get back in the saddle.

Designed for inexperienced cyclists or those who have grown out of the habit, the six-week sessions start at Teesdale Leisure Centre on Wednesday, 26 April between 10am and 11.15am and at Blackhill and Consett Park on the same day between 12.15pm and 1.30pm, with bikes and helmets provided.

Those wanting to enjoy the warmer weather can also take part in a summer evening ride at Auckland Castle, taking place every Thursday from 27 April between 6pm and 8pm.

All sessions are available for those aged over 16. To take part contact Victoria Lee (Durham Dales) on 03000 260856 or Phil Lightburn (Derwentside) on 03000 266344 or email