A NEW running initiative aims to get people exercising, socialising and exploring their neighbourhood’s network of paths.

Bishop Auckland’s first Run Together rail run, on the Auckland Way near Bracks Farm, yesterday was the start of a couch to 5k course for beginner runners.

Durham County Councillor for Bishop Auckland Joy Allen knew a similar initiative in Coundon was a success and could see the potential for one in her town.

Councillor Allen said: "We have some beautiful places to run, ride and walk but people might not want to go there alone, this gives people safety and confidence in numbers.

“This is good for community, bringing people together, especially on estates and towns and to make use of our lovely old railways.”

Within days of the programme being advertised online all 16 places were booked by people hoping to get fit, lose weight and boost their self-esteem.

Victoria Lee, a wellbeing and development officer at the council, agreed to run the sessions and hopes that volunteer leaders can be recruited to keep it going long-term.

Cllr Allen said: “It will hopefully be a chance for people to start running at a modest pace, with Victoria’s support and with others in the same boat.”