PICTURES: Countess of Wessex cycles through Northumberland

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, cycled through Northumberland this week as part of her 445-mile charity trek from Edinburgh to London.

She crossed the border on Monday afternoon before heading off from Otterburn on Tuesday morning as she raises funds to enable more young people to start their Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) Award, including those from disadvantaged or vulnerable backgrounds.

The Countess of Wessex in Otterburn.

The Countess of Wessex in Otterburn.

The DofE Diamond Challenge is a fund-raising initiative to help the DofE Charity continue to transform the lives of more young people who are at risk and marginalised.

It aims to give everyone a flavour of the life-changing benefits of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, and anyone, of any age, can sign up to take part.

The Countess said: "I am both excited and apprehensive to be undertaking this challenge on behalf of the DofE 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 slideshow above features pictures of the Countess crossing the border at Carter Bar on Monday, departing from Otterburn on Tuesday morning and during a break at Corbridge.

In the county, Northumberland CofE Academy (NCEA) has been running DofE for the past three years and has about 50 pupils a year doing their Bronze and Silver awards. This year, the Academy will also be offering, for the first time, the opportunity of participating in the Gold Award to students.

The school is in a disadvantaged area, with about 50 per cent of the pupils are eligible for Free School Meals (the national average is 27 per cent). The Academy supports all young people who wish to undertake their DofE and for the last two years, the Academy has been supported by Queen's Trust funding from the DofE to support the aspirations of the Academy to grow the opportunities for disadvantaged young people.

Eyton Parker, DofE manager at NCEA, said: "There are many participants that the DofE has had an impact on with regards to their confidence and teamwork skills. A few of the girls in particular have really come out of their shells so to speak. The DofE has also had an impact on behaviour."