Heat and hills - a different sort of workout

A long walk later: Chris Cordner arrives at Dunstanburgh Castle after a bracing ramble along the Northumberland coast
A long walk later: Chris Cordner arrives at Dunstanburgh Castle after a bracing ramble along the Northumberland coast
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A bit of variety can be a great motivator for the fitness fanatic.

After all, there are only so many times that you can run the same routes and tackle the same treadmill without getting bored.

I was on holiday and headed for north Northumberland for what turned out to be a fantastic break.

The Northumberland coast is both beautiful and makes for a great training track.

Within two hours of arriving at our hotel, I had donned my running gear and training shoes. I jogged out of the hotel grounds along local roads, much to the amusement of fellow guests who were busy lumping cases out of laden car boots.

There’s a big difference between Northumberland and our part of the region. We have a mix of rural and urban settings.

They have countryside.

And whereas I would breathe in everything from rose-filled gardens to landfill sites in Hartlepool, all you get up your nostrils in the Lindisfarne area is sea air on the coast and fresh manure further inland.

My wife Margaret and I spent a break in a little village called Beal which is close to Holy Island.

It was belting sun, rolling hills, crop-filled fields and sand dunes all the way.

And, more importantly, some great local scenery which needed a lot of walking to get there.

So as well as early morning training runs, we also got to roam round castles galore.

One of the best is the magnificent Dunstanburgh Castle which is set more than a mile from the nearest parking spot. It meant walking from the picture postcard fishing village of Craster (famed for its kippers) over sheep-filled fields with a huge ruined castle waiting on the horizon.

Take a mix of North Sea air and uphill walking and you have found a great way to get fit. I would recommend it to anyone and it is only 70-odd miles from your doorstep.

Astonishingly, my wife decided to tackle the three-mile round trip to Dunstanburgh Castle – and back – in high heels!

Her excuse? They were the most comfortable shoes she had and she was “not going to wear flat shoes for anyone.”

We also took in the magnificent Bamburgh Castle which involves a walk up a huge hill to get there. We walked round Bamburgh itself and Seahouses (twice) and came home refreshed and feeling positively healthy.

So my message to fitness fans is this. Look around for new horizons. It could be the key to a fresh challenge.