Get fit in the forest!

Margaret Forest Runner Grandmother Margaret Hardon heads through Hamsterley Forest on her own New Year’s keep fit drive. Get fit in the forest!

If you are stuck for a New Year’s resolution then woodland chiefs have come up with the perfect answer: get fighting fit in Hamsterley Forest.

The Forestry Commission say that its 80,000 hectares (200,000 acres) of woodland in the North East offer endless possibilities to help raise your fitness levels, whatever your age or ability.

Beautiful Hamsterley Forest, near Bishop Auckland, nestling in the stunning Pennine foothills, has some of the finest cycle and walking trails in the county.

But studies show that a quarter of the British population is now classed as physically inactive, putting the risk of developing cardiovascular disease even higher than before.  Just by increasing our exercise levels by 1% would prevent over 1000 premature deaths caused by the disease each year, say experts.  What’s more, vitamin D deficiency and the children’s disease Rickets is also on the increase due to the lack of time they spend in sunlight.

Alex MacLennan, Forestry Commission  Recreation and Public Affairs Manager for North East England, said:

“Instead of staying cooped up inside, do your family a favour and let them hop, skip and jump through one of our woodlands like Hamsterley. We have some great trails and also a natural play area in Hamsterley which are perfect for eager young explorers.  The message is do yourself and your kids a power good and get out in the fresh air and enjoy your woodlands.”

Forest chiefs are also highlighting that for the price of a single monthly gym membership, a Forestry Commission Discovery Pass offers you and the whole family the opportunity to park for free at a Forestry Commission woodland like Hamsterley.  You also get generous discounts off shopping and activities and reductions for Go Ape activity courses and breaks at Forest Holiday cabins.  To find out more information about our events, please visit

Richard Darn

Margaret Forest Runner

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