WALKERS are being helped to get out into the County Durham countryside over the next few months.

Durham County Council has put together a programme of nearly 70 guided walks, covering a total of more than 520 miles, between October and December.

It starts on Wednesday with a tough 14-mile trek from Cow Green Reservoir, in Teesdale, to the High Cup Nick on the roof of the Pennines.

An eight-mile Tales from the Riverbank walk, featuring poetry and prose from Barnard Castle, and a four-mile look at Seaham street names will be held on Saturday.

An Age of Steam 14-mile family bike ride and quiz has been organised for Sunday along the Waskerley Way, near Consett.

Transport to the starting point can be booked on 0191-383 4144.

A council spokesman said: "New events featured in the three-month programme are a Halloween evening at Hardwick Park, near Sedgefield, on October 30, from 7pm to 9pm, and a Countryside Christmas at Broompark picnic area near Stonebridge, Durham, on December 13, when visitors can join countryside rangers making wreaths and bird feeders.

"Guides with expertise in local history, geology, ecology, or industrial archaeology lead the walks.''

They cost £2 for adults and £1 for concessions.

The walks leaflet is available from libraries and Tourist Information Centres or the council website on www.durham.gov.uk or by calling 0191-383 4144.