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Countess saddles up in aid of father-in-law Philip's charity

By Hilary Duncanson

The Countess of Wessex has crossed over the border from Scotland to England as she embarked on the first day of her 450-mile palace-to-palace bike ride.

Sophie, who admitted to having some nerves in the build-up to the event, is pedalling from the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh to Buckingham Palace in London in support of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award as the scheme celebrates its 60th anniversary.

She and her team were waved off by Philip himself and her husband Prince Edward, the Earl of Wessex, on the Diamond Challenge. Before climbing the steep hill to Carter Bar, where two huge rocks stand marking the border, she stopped for refreshments.

Having entered England, she will head down a steep descent along the A68 into Northumberland National Park.

Speaking minutes before embarking on the epic journey, Sophie said: "Standing here right now, I am very nervous. The prospect of the 450 miles is pretty daunting.

"I've been very fortunate to be supported by a lot of family and friends, and I'm incredibly grateful to everybody who's actually supported me. I'm hugely grateful."

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