Her Majesty The Queen has given permission for a unique new walking challenge at Balmoral Castle to mark Armed Forces Day next summer…

The ‘Balmoral Challenge’, organised by military charity Walking With The Wounded, will see up to 100 teams of four compete over one of three mountainous routes on HM The Queen’s estate in the Cairngorm National Park – with each team supporting a vulnerable veteran to regain their independence and reintegrate into society.

Teams will meet and compete against the charity’s beneficiaries from across Scotland and hear first-hand how they have overcome physical, mental and social injuries such as homelessness to get back into work and independence.

Duncan Slater from Muir of Ord near Inverness lost both his legs serving in Afghanistan when his vehicle hit an IED. He recovered to become the first double leg amputee to ski to the South Pole as part of WWTW’s South Pole Allied Challenge in 2013 and helped recce the routes for the Balmoral Challenge ahead of its launch – challenging others to get involved.

He said: “The area is stunning and finishing in front of the castle is very special. It will be a great way for people to show their support for our veterans and have a really memorable experience at the same time. Everyone has their own challenges and fitness levels but it’s important people have a goal to work towards and this will be a fun one to take on as a team.”

The challenge celebrates the history of the estate with the three routes making the most of the historical landmarks which dot the map. It will include a ‘big’ route of 33km which climbs over three Munros, a ‘thinking’ route calling on teams to think strategically and pick up as many points as they can within a set time limit and a ‘family’ route for over 12s in the forests above the castle.

Balmoral Estate Factor, Richard Gledson, said: “We are delighted to be working with Walking With The Wounded on what will be an exciting new event helping to raise funds to support our wounded servicemen and women. We look forward to welcoming all the participants to Balmoral and to getting our very own Team Balmoral into training!”

Walking With The Wounded CEO and Co-Founder Ed Parker said: “We are very honoured to have this wonderful opportunity. Our programmes have expanded to support more and more Scottish veterans, and we work in partnership with a number of other military charities in Scotland. We hope this challenge will inspire more people to come and meet our beneficiaries, be inspired by their determination despite adversity and to test themselves and their teams in the hills for a very worthy cause, helping us raise a significant sum of money to further expand the services we offer.”

Walking With The Wounded was set up in 2010 by former army officers Ed Parker and Simon Dalglish after Ed’s 26-year-old nephew lost both legs in an IED blast in Afghanistan in 2009. Last year it staged the “Walk Of Britain”, which saw four wounded Brits and two wounded American veterans walk 1,000 miles across the UK, starting from the Glenfiddich distillery in Dufftown and finishing at Buckingham Palace, to raise funds and awareness for the charity.

The charity’s expeditions are all funded entirely by corporate sponsorship, with fundraising going to its programmes supporting vulnerable veterans who have been physically, mentally or socially disadvantaged by their service. The charity assists them in gaining independence through new long-term careers outside of the military. This includes providing support to homeless veterans and veterans in the Criminal Justice System.

Entries for the Balmoral Challenge are now open.

For more information on the challenge, or to sign up, click here