The Countess of Wessex stopped off outside the Subscription Rooms on Friday as she joined a blind man for his walk across the UK to fight sight loss.

Julian Jackson, who lost his sight in 2010 to a retinal inherited disease, is walking nearly a thousand miles from Land’s End to John o’ Groats to raise money for research into eye disease.

He set off on April 29 with a goal of finishing around June 22 - and, as he made his way through Stroud on May 11, he had a royal rambling companion in the form of Sophie Helen Rhys-Jones, wife of the Queen’s youngest son Prince Edward.

The Countess of Wessex is an ambassador for the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and a patron of eye research.

Sophie met Julian at the Egypt Mill in Nailsworth and they made their way along the railway path towards Stroud town centre.

“I’m very involved with issues of sight loss, so it’s been a huge pleasure to come and support Julian on his walk,” she said.

“If you could imagine walking a marathon every day for seven weeks bar four days for rest - it’s just one of the most extraordinary things someone can do.

“It was also a very pretty walk into Stroud, I have to say.”

Friends, colleagues and eye health care professionals are joining Julian too and the British Army will take him over the finish line in Scotland.

Julian’s target is to raise £350,000 to help fund grants for eye researchers.

For more info on Julian’s walk and to donate to his cause, visit