Countess To Cycle From Edinburgh To London

10 May 2016, 10:35 | Updated: 10 May 2016, 10:44

The Countess of Wessex is taking on a 450-mile palace to palace cycle challenge, which will see her ride from Edinburgh to London.

Sophie will pedal from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to Buckingham Palace on behalf of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award to celebrate the scheme's 60th anniversary.

The Countess, who will complete the mammoth bike ride over seven days in September, admitted she is nervous, but looking forward to it.

She was pictured powering along in her cycle gear including white helmet, sunglasses, black leggings, black T-shirt with DofE logo, and turquoise and yellow trainers.

Sophie is making the 445-mile journey for her DofE Diamond Challenge - an initiative which asks people to tackle something new to raise awareness and money for the award scheme.

The Countess said: "I am both excited and apprehensive to be undertaking this challenge on behalf of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Diamond Anniversary Appeal.

"I have seen for myself the incredible impact the DofE has on every young life it touches, equipping young people with self-belief and motivation whatever their background or ability.

"So I had no hesitation in taking on a Diamond Challenge and hope this will encourage others to try their own.''

The Duke of Edinburgh, Sophie's father-in-law, set up the award programme in 1956, inspired by his eccentric headmaster Kurt Hahn and his much-loved school days at Gordonstoun in north-east Scotland.

It has become one of the best known self-development and adventure schemes for 14 to 24-year-olds, with around 2.5 million awards achieved in the UK since its inception.

The Countess will cycle the route with a small team of servicemen and women from four of her military affiliations - RAF Wittering, 5th Battalion The Rifles, Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps, and the Corps of Army Music.

In contrast to the British monarchy, the Dutch royal family has often been referred to as the bicycling monarchy for their more relaxed attitude - and their penchant for cycling - particularly the late Queen Juliana.

In comments posted on the British monarchy's website, Sophie wrote: "Cycling is something I only tend to do with my children and never for more than the odd hour.

"It is something I've always found to be one of the more testing forms of exercise physically and mentally, so cycling it had to be!

"I am now training hard and trying to get to grips with the kit, the fitness level, the seat(!), the aching shoulders, wrists and backside, the terrifying roads, the hills and worst of all the cleats!

"Yes, I have fallen off several times, but the bruises are fading and each time out gets a little better.''