If your new year’s resolution is to get fit and healthy, why not combine exercise with tasty refreshment?
Each year around seven million people make a New Year’s resolution to improve an aspect of their health, with fitness usually a top priority.
But that doesn’t mean the first few months of the year have to be spent sweating it out at the gym with only a handful of lettuce leaves to look forward to at dinner time.
Northumberland offers a plethora of fun, outdoor activities alongside locally produced and delicious foods.
Journal Taste has matched up a selection of calorie burning, outdoor activities that can be enjoyed which also happen to be on the doorstep of outstanding pubs, restaurants and hotels renowned for their locally sourced foods.
If you still have festive fare to walk off, a leisurely 1.5 mile stroll around Kielder Water and Forest Park (www.visitkielder.com) could burn off the 270 calories in a mince pie. Or, for those feeling more active, the calories in a Christmas pudding could fuel an hour on a Kielder Forest cycle trail.
Then you can head with a clear conscience to the award-winning Battlesteads Hotel at Wark near Hexham (www.battlesteads.com) where the menu includes a mouth-watering Orchard Farm Dry Cured Gammon Steak.
Meanwhile, the 17th Century Pheasant Inn (www.thepheasantinn.com) at Stannersburn has a superb reputation for its real ales and locally sourced and hearty food (Observer readers voted the pub’s Sunday lunch one of the best in the North). Staff will even make up packed lunches if necessary and walkers, cyclists, runners and dogs are all welcome.
But there are hundreds of other places to cycle and walk across Northumberland.
Cyclists and walkers are always welcome at Tomlinsons Café in Rothbury (www.tomlinsonsrothbury.co.uk) in the Coquet Valley, which sources all its meats locally and serves a choice of all day breakfasts.
The café in Bridge Street has even appointed a Sports Development Officer in partnership with Bike4Health, in order to focus on happy, healthy food and cycling.
The nearby Queens Head at Rothbury Town Foot (www.queensheadrothbury.com) is also popular with cyclists and walkers where the head chef has recently started making his own Northumbrian sausages, burgers, haggis and black pudding, with meat sourced from local farms.
Northumberland is becoming quite a haven for runners. Kirkley Hall near Ponteland is hosting the Run Nation Northumberland half marathon on March 29 (www.runnation.co.uk) .
Runners looking for somewhere to stay for the weekend nearby could try the Dyvels Inn at Corbridge, which has a good reputation for its home-cooked food (www.thedyvelsinn.co.uk) , or there’s Matfen Hall Hotel, Golf and Spa (www.matfenhall.com) which has the 2 AA Rosette Library Restaurant offering a combination of classic and contemporary dining.
The hotel also hosts the tree top adventure park Go Ape in its grounds, so you can run your half marathon, enjoy some fabulous food and then work it all off again on the golf course, in the spa or in the trees!
Taking the pace down a little, but still getting fit and burning calories, there are many hundreds of beautiful walking routes, from the magnificent Cheviot Hills in north Northumberland to routes along Hadrian’s Wall in the west and breath-taking cliff top and beach hikes on the east coast.
If you fancy blowing the winter cobwebs away on the Northumberland Coast, there are some good pubs and restaurants serving a range of healthy, local fare, including freshly caught fish.
They include The Ship Inn (www.shipinnnewton.co.uk) , virtually on the beach at Low Newton, which also brews its own beer with evocative names such as Sandcastles at Dawn and Ship Hop Light, or the Jolly Fisherman at Craster (www.thejollyfishermancraster.co.uk) , where diners can choose from an array of freshly cooked produce, including the pub’s crab soup and rib eye steaks.
Other welcoming pubs with good food in the north Northumberland coastal walking area include the Bamburgh Castle Hotel at Seahouses (www.bamburghcastlehotel.co.uk) and the Lindisfarne Inn at Beal (www.lindisfarneinn.co.uk) , which lies just at the end of the causeway to Holy Island.
These two inns are currently offering dinner, bed and breakfast for just £49.95 per person per night from now until March 31.