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Hundreds head out on Sunderland's BIG walk as festival of fitness comes to close

Boots and paws set out across a parkland trail together this morning as they joined in the final event of a celebration of the great outdoors.

The Active Sunderland BIG Walk is the last event in the festival, following on from a 3k as part of Sunderland 10k and Half Marathon in May and a series of bike rides which were held over the weekend of June 16 and 17, with a host of other activity days held to encourage people to try out a sport.

More than 420 people joined in today's event.

More than 420 people joined in today's event.

Around 3,000 people in total have taken part in the programme.

This year's BIG walk drew in its biggest crowd yet, with more than 420 people joining in a route of three, seven or 11 miles after crossing the starting line at Herrington Country Park this morning.

Many families and groups of friends also took along their dogs for the event.

Read more: Picture special on Active Sunderland’s BIG Walk

Friends and family teamed up to set out over the course.

Friends and family teamed up to set out over the course.

The shortest route featured a scavenger hunt, giving people the chance to find out more about the park's history and wildlife, while the longer routes took people over the River Wear valley behind Penshaw Monument.

Mayor of Sunderland Lynda Scanlan was on the starting line to see everyone off over the course.

"It's great to be here and we've got some good weather, which we didn't have last year.

"It's good to see so many people get involved and it's also good to see Sunderland does support these activities for people of all ages, it's a great site here."

Walkers set out on one of three routes around Herrington County Park.

Walkers set out on one of three routes around Herrington County Park.

Peter Mooney, Active Sunderland's development manager, added: "This is the final event of the Active programme and it's a really positive event.

"We see some of the same people take part every year and we also see some new faces, which is great."

Among those to join in was a group from Washington Mind as its team spread the word about its adult and children's services.

Karen Foubister, 52, from Sunderland, is one of its adult counsellors, and joined in the seven mile walk.

She said: "It's a real community event and it's a good chance for us to tell people about our work, but also spread the word about the importance of wellbeing and our Way to Wellbeing programme."

Jackie Nixon, 49, is a public health practitioner for for the council and took along her Jack Russell Patch while her friend Sharon Hopper, 54, from Gilley Law, who is a nurse practitioner in South Tyneside, joined her with her own Jack Russell Rosie.

Jackie, who covered the seven mile walk, said: "I think it's my duty to join in as part of my role in public health and also to really encourage others to join in.

"It's great to be part of something together and if people see lots of others taking part, whether they go by in a car or on the bus, hopefully they'll find out more about it and join in too."

Beverley Jobey, 36, a support worker in care from Hendon, was joined by Lee Dickerson, 27, and Hannah Clare Jobey, 10, a pupil at Valley Road Primary as she took on the 11 mile route.

She said: "We've taken part in the Newcastle Stampede before but it's the first time we've taken part in this.

"We want to get out and do more and get active, so we thought we'd give it a try."