WALKERS have signed up for a summer-long challenge to reach a ton in a quest for fitness.

The Wear Valley Walking for Health Ton-Up Challenge, launched on Monday, is part of a three-year initiative to cut heart disease and promote healthy living.

People taking part will work towards personal achievement targets of exercising for a total of 100 minutes, covering 100 laps of an athletics track or walking or jogging 100 miles.

They can also join in organised walks or arrange their own programme and record their efforts between now and September 20.

Wear Valley District Council chairman Councillor Margaret Pinkney launched the challenge at the Peases West Athletics Ground, where activities are free on weekday lunchtimes and on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Children from Peases West Primary School joined 30 other walkers at the ceremony.

Around the district, a series of guided walks will introduce people to exercise over easy routes. Arranged through a Walking for Health programme, they open on Sunday with a choice of a one or three-mile trek along the Bishop Auckland to Brandon walkway, setting off from the entrance to Auckland Castle at 10am.

For information contact Lynn Wilson, in the council's community services department at the Civic Centre, Crook, telephone (01388) 765555, extension 217.