Want to exercise between your ears? Go for a run

We all know that running is good for us. Heading out to pound the pavements is a sure-fire way to burn calories, improve cardiovascular performance, shed fat and perhaps even achieve that smokin’ physique. But is there more to the art of running?

If you’ve ever put on a pair of running shoes and taken up jogging, you can’t help but have noticed that putting one foot in front of the other for miles on end does something much more than just trim a couple of inches off the tummy.

Look past the burning muscles, the heaving chest and the pounding heart and you’ll find that a swift 5k also does something for the grey matter between the ears, too. Call it nourishing the soul or a primal form of catharsis; running has a knack for exercising the mind as well as the body.

From elite athletes to business professionals with hectic lifestyles, any keen runner will tell you that the benefits of running are more wide ranging than just a bit of a workout – especially when there’s a beautiful landscape waiting out there beyond your doorstep.

Whether it’s a scenic coastal gallop up the Northumberland Coast AONB, an easy circular around Ford Moss Reserve at Ford and Etal Estates or an assault on the Kielder Marathon at Kielder Water & Forest Park, you can’t help but feel energized by stretching those legs.

Running in Northumberland

Feel happy

Endorphins are the key to feeling happy – chemically speaking. And nothing gets these euphoria juices going quite like hitting the open roads or churning out the miles on a treadmill. A regular hit of endorphins has even been found to be of great benefit to those suffering from clinical depression or anxiety.

Tip: Explore Northumberland by trying new running routes and you’ll only enhance this feeling of freedom and contentment.

Relieve stress

The mental benefits of exercise can be profound. The chemical Norepinephrine plays an important role in moderating the brain’s reaction to stress, and levels of this hormone are found to increase during exercise.

Springboard for confidence

Self esteem and confidence doesn’t come from a washboard stomach or perfectly sculpted calves; instead the process of getting fitter, healthier and more capable physically is what helps us to be more confident in our capabilities.

Runners who regularly set themselves new targets and goals – be it building towards their first marathon or knocking a second off their 100 metre PB – get a sense of fulfillment from competing and pushing their performance to new heights. This winning attitude permeates other aspects of a runner’s life, and they soon see obstacles as “challenges” rather than “barriers” to success.

Tip: Hill ascents like those found in the Fell Running at Northumberland National Park really get those calves working.

Improved memory

Research has shown that exercising regularly can boost memory and enhance our ability to learn. How? Well, apparently physical activity increases cell production in the hippocampus (the part of the brain that controls memory and learning).

Control addictions

Running has been described as a healthy addiction, and there many people who have replaced smoking, drinking and even drug abuse with marathons. This can be traced back to the way the brain releases dopamine. Those who have previously become addicted to the dopamine released during substance abuse can often get the same hit of dopamine from exercise – but without the life-threatening side effects.

This article was written by Winn Solicitors, the road accident claims specialists. If you have been involved in a road accident while out running in the last three years, put your trust in Winn Solicitors, the UK’s leading no win no fee personal injury solicitors for non-fault accident claims.
Images courtesy of Mapichai/ freedigitalphotos.net

Battlesteads Hotel & Restaurant – extending the friendly paw of hospitality!

Battlesteads in Wark

Whether you’re exploring on two legs or four Northumberland has to be one of the most tranquil and unspoilt areas of the UK to discover. Criss-crossed with age old walking tracks across rugged countryside, pretty hamlets and world class historical sites the county is a walker’s paradise and an ideal ‘escape from it all’ location for dog and nature lovers.

Always on the sniff for a good walk is our resident dog Winston, who just like us loves to get out and enjoy our clean fresh air and a romp through Northumberland National Park.

As dog lovers we know how much fun it is to enjoy a trip away with your pet – why leave them at home when there’s so many great places for them to explore – so we pride ourselves on offering a number of dog friendly accommodation options. Find us listed in guides such as The Ruff Guide, The Good Dog Guide, Smooth Hound and Sawday’s Dog Friendly Places to Stay

Resident dog Winston in one of the dog-friendly rooms

Originally built as a farmstead in 1747, Battlesteads is a family run, pet friendly hotel, equipped with 17 en suite bedrooms, including four ground floor rooms which are all available by prior arrangement to dog owners. With jaw dropping walks starting straight from the door step you’ll find us the perfect base to discover all that Northumberland has to offer.

Then head back to the hotel to rest those well worn walking boots, or puffed out paws and enjoy a delicious meal in the hotel’s restaurant after unwinding with a few drinks in the bar by our cosy open fire.

Dog friendly room rates start from £115 bed and breakfast for two people sharing, with larger rooms accommodating three to four people also available from £135. There is a small extra charge of £10 per night for those wishing to bring their dog, and the hotel requests that you bring your own pets bedding if possible.

Check out our Battlesteads page for things to do in the area, or visit www.battlesteads.com for more details of rates and current offers at the hotel.

Battlesteads Hotel & Restaurant
Wark on Tyne nr Hexham, Northumberland, NE48 3LS

Behind every Great North Run there’s a great running culture

With the Great North Run celebrating its one millionth runner this year, the North East can rightly claim to be among the UK’s top regions for running.

A whopping 56,000 entrants took part in this year’s race and it can truly be called an international event – simply take a look at the A-list competitors in recent years, including multiple Olympic champions Mo Farah, Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele.

But the world’s best half marathon isn’t the only running event the North East has to offer. With rolling landscapes, stunning coastlines and enough hills to test even the best runners, the North East is the perfect place to explore on foot.

If you are looking for a new challenge, here are some of our top suggestions.

Northumberland Castles marathon:

Bamburgh CastleWith both a half and full marathon available, this route from Alnwick to Bamburgh Castle is one of the most unique and eye-catching races on the marathon calendar.

Taking in beaches, roads, fields and cliff tops, this tough but satisfying race is one of the most stunning runs you’ll ever do. With picture postcard villages such as Dunstanburgh and Craster along the route, even the weariest limbs won’t stop you from admiring this distance race.

Try the Cheviots Challenge fell run

For many the thought of making running even harder is enough to make one break out in a cold sweat. But if your love of running stretches to taking on some of the most challenging terrains in the region, why not opt for the Cheviots Challenge. The charitable event raises money for the Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team, so every leg-sapping mile of the course is all in aid of a good cause.

Run like the Romans

Hadrian's WallOffering something a bit more unusual than your standard half-marathon, the Hadrian’s Wall Half has been described as a multi-terrain trail race – meaning that it isn’t quite the extreme up and down of a fell run.

While it couldn’t be described as a fast course – the current course record for the race stands at 1hr 21 – following the old Roman wall across Northumberland is an experience like no other.

The short burst: Newcastle Parkrun

Completely free and fun to take part in this weekly 5km timed run is becoming increasingly popular in Newcastle. And with other Parkruns springing up around the region, you won’t have to travel far to find one near you.

The Newcastle event kicks off at 9am every Saturday morning around Exhibition Park in Newcastle. All you need to do to join in is register online and print out your barcode – oh, and thank the army of volunteers who organize and marshall the event for your running pleasure!

Join a running club

Morpeth ChantryIf you’ve always fancied being a “Harrier” then the region isn’t short of running clubs sporting the famous name. Alnwick, Morpeth, Gateshead and Tynedale are just some of the names that spring to mind – but whichever running club you do decide to join, you are sure to be met with a smile and friendly air of competitiveness to keep you interested.

Winn Solicitors is the UK’s leading accident management company. If you’ve had a non-fault accident as a pedestrian in the last 3 years call today on 0800 988 6288.

Berwick-upon-Tweed is the most Northerly town in England’s most Northerly County of Northumberland. With some of the most spectacular coastal views and situated on the banks of the River Tweed – Berwick is a dramatic walled town in a beautiful location. As a result, Berwick has always attberwick bridge ntracted artistic folk…

 

From home grown artists including Thomas Sword-Good and Fred Stott, to visitors including Turner and L.S. Lowry – Berwick’s landscape and architecture has been a fascination for many.

 

 

Lowry in particularGranary Gallery Dean Gartland small had a great love of the town, visiting Berwick on holiday from the 1930’s until the year before his death in 1976. Until 21st September 2014 the ‘L.S. Lowry in Berwick & Northumberland’ exhibition is open daily in the Granary Gallery. Over 6,000 people have already visited the exhibition which includes loans from Sunderland Museum & Art Gallery, The Lowry Estate, The Lowry (Salford) and from private collections.

 

vn-medium-Lowry-Self-Portrait

This is the largest collection of Lowry originals to be shown in Berwick-upon-Tweed and features; The Market Place, Dewar’s Lane, Spittal Sands, and a football match on ‘The Stanks’. Don’t miss your opportunity to see the works of one of the UK’s best-loved artist’s, right here in Northumberland!

 

 

The exhibition is open daily (Monday & Tuesday 12-4pm, Wednesday-Sunday 11am-5pm) in the Dewar’s Lane Granary building which also houses Berwick YHA and the Granary Bistro Cafe. The Granary building itself is worth a visit. Built in 1769, the six storey Granary suffered a fire in the early 19th Century which causes it to lean more than the tower of Pisa!

 

Beginning from Dewar’s Lawalk-in-the-footstepsne, you can also follow the Lowry Trail to walk in the footsteps of the great ‘matchstick-men’ painter, exploring the town and discovering its hidden gems. The Trail takes in the Elizabethan Walls and Berwick town, before crossing the River Tweed into Tweedmouth and Spittal, a total walking time of approx. 3 hours.

 

 

Today, Berwick has a thriving culture and arts scene, with 4 art galleries (Granary Gallery, Gymnasium Gallery, Berwick Museum & Art Gallery, Watchtower Gallery), 5 museums (Berwick Barracks, KOSB Regimental Museum, Berwick Museum, Town Hall & Cell Block Museum, and The Main Guard Museum) a working pottery (Tower House Pottery) and the Maltings Theatre & Cinema.

If you plan your visit for the last week of the exhibition, you can also attend the 10th Annual Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival (17th-21st September 2014) a celebration of international film in various unique venues around the town.

Complete your visit by buying some local artists work as a lasting reminder of Berwick-upon-Tweed. From local art shops and galleries on Bridge Street and Castlegate, to Serendipity and the Tourist Information Centre on Marygate, you will find the perfect gift or souvenir.

Head over to www.visitberwick.com to find out more about the town that inspired Lowry.

Annual Dawn Chorus at Ford & Etal

The first hour of the 21st annual Dawn Chorus at Ford & Etal was more akin to a January morning than to early May. The temperature was hovering either side of 0°C and the grass as we walked down the steep bank to the River Till was pure white. Those of us who had met there once before recalled the thick mist with which we had been confronted – a morning when birdsong meant everything because it had seemed that we would never see a single thing…                     Towards Hay Farm from Slainsfield Road spring

But the sun slowly rose and its rays became stronger.  With the light behind us we were able to stand for several minutes and watch – in amazement – a young male Crossbill and two females at the top of a few Scots Pine trees, in an arable landscape and far away from the thick pine woodlands in which they are normally seen.  Perhaps Crossbills send out small foraging parties in spring, to investigate every remaining tree in an area that might still bear cones after they have run out of supplies in larger woods?  They flew off as we eventually moved to go past them, only to sit on a distant ash tree until we had passed and then fly straight back again.

Down on the river, a male Grey Wagtail gave a wonderful display of dancing at the edge of the rushes, whilst above him a Great Spotted Woodpecker foraged almost upside down under a branch.  Further up the steep bank, in the bluebells (and in the sunshine) two Roe Deer made a lovely picture. Two Curlew flew overhead.  Linnets, Bullfinches, Greenfinches, Yellowhammers and Goldfinches were busy in the thick gorse bushes beside us and a Dipper flashed past.Crossbill May2014.3

Moving up the river, we finally emerged into the sunshine ourselves, stopping to study the scolding ‘chuck’ of two male Blackcaps arguing with each other at a corner of the wood.  Looking across the river there were great views of Blue Tits darting in and out of a nest box and a cacophony of Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. Another view of a Grey Wagtail was possible and a Long-Tailed Tit bounced past.  One or two people were intent on identifying the breed of sheep on the bank behind us.

Walking back up to Tindal House Farm, a Garden Warbler’s song burst from a patch of blackthorn and a Whitethroat scratched his song in the bushes below the farm.  We finally saw a Swallow – and a fine patch of Yellow Archangel growing on the edge of the wood. It was a real delight to sit down in the Granary Tea Rooms at Heatherslaw where an unending supply of Bacon, Sausage and Egg Rolls were soon on our plates.  Twenty-first birthdays are of course also an occasion for a glass of something celebratory, with or without the orange juice, and a suitable toast was proposed to the next 21 years of the Ford & Etal Dawn Chorus.

house sparrow3The total number of species recorded (43) was a little disappointing; there were some notable absentees.  A few members spent went to explore other corners of the estate after breakfast; their results are shown below in an additional list.

Seen/heard:  Mallard; Tufted Duck; Pheasant; Grey Heron; Lapwing; Curlew; Common Gull; Herring Gull; Rock Dove; Woodpigeon; Great Spotted Woodpecker; Skylark; Swallow; Grey Wagtail; Pied Wagtail; Dipper; Wren; Dunnock; Robin; Blackbird; Song Thrush; Blackcap; Garden Warbler; Common Whitethroat; Chiffchaff; Willow Warbler; Goldcrest; Long-tailed Tit; Blue Tit, Great Tit; Coal Tit; Jackdaw; Rook; Carrion Crow; House Sparrow; Chaffinch; Greenfinch; Goldfinch; Linnet; Crossbill; Bullfinch; Yellowhammer

Additional species reported:  Buzzard; Moorhen; Meadow Pipit; Raven; Lesser Whitethroat; Tree Sparrow; Reed Bunting;