Published 10 May 2016

The Countess of Wessex will cycle from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to Buckingham Palace on behalf of The Duke of Edinburgh's Award in its 60th year.

The Countess, who is a long term supporter of the DofE, will cycle the 445 miles from Edinburgh to London over seven days in September.

Read about The Countess's DofE Diamond Challenge story so far, in her own words:

In September this year I shall be cycling 445 miles from the Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh to Buckingham Palace in support of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Diamond Anniversary Appeal.

Some months ago I was asked by the Award (DofE) to take up a challenge in celebration of this incredible milestone. The funds being raised by me as well as many others all over the country will give thousands more young people in the UK the opportunity to experience the life changing opportunities the Award offers. I have personally witnessed the incredible impact the Award has on every young life it touches, so I had no hesitation in agreeing to play my part.

I believe every young person should be given the chance to take up the DofE. It offers each participant the chance to become motivated, self confident, community aware individuals regardless of their background, ability or culture, helping them realise their potential and in many cases turning lives around for the better. At the gold level it equips young people with the self- belief and work-ready skills they need to succeed.

So what could I do? It had to be something outside my comfort zone that was challenging enough to require a high level of personal commitment. 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. The training is hard work but I am determined to be fit enough to complete my journey. Your support in sponsoring me will make me all the more determined.

There are a number of people who have been incredibly supportive of me in putting this event together. I would like to thank the team who will be accompanying me on my ride, in particular Jamie from Boardman Bikes and Rachel from RMAS. David, Pippa, Martin and Roy, thank you all for your incredible support in sorting the logistics, route etc. and in ensuring that we don't have to sleep under the stars!

The DofE sometimes struggles to gain the attention it deserves. I hope by doing this bike ride I will not only help them achieve their Diamond Challenge Fund goals, but may also interest others in doing their own challenges no matter how big or small. If you think you could do something for the DofE this year, you will be helping thousands of young people all over the country.

For more information on doing your own Diamond Challenge visit www.dofediamondchallenge.org, or for general details about the DofE Award visit www.dofe.org

About the challenge

Her Royal Highness is undertaking the ride as her 'DofE Diamond Challenge' – a special initiative marking the 60th anniversary of the DofE's founding by The Duke of Edinburgh. People of any age are asked to take on a DofE inspired challenge and try something new while raising money for, and awareness of, The Duke of Edinburgh's Award.

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 Countess of Wessex

The Countess will cycle the route accompanied by a small team of servicemen and women from four of Her Royal Highness's military affiliations; RAF Wittering; 5th Battalion The Rifles; Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps; and Corps of Army Music.

The Countess of Wessex is The Royal Colonel of 5th Battalion The Rifles; Honorary Air Commodore of RAF Wittering; and Colonel in Chief of both Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps and the Corps of Army Music.