Sir Ranulph Fiennes - the explorer on his love of Windsor and looking after our planet
PUBLISHED: 00:00 20 April 2020
Credit: Andrew Fox / Alamy Stock Photo
He has climbed Everest and trudged across the Antarctic and has seen things you and I may only dream of. But British superhero Sir Ranulph Fiennes still likes to stroll around Windsor and enjoy taking in the place where it all started for him.
During 2020 Sir Ranulph is touring Britain appearing at many of our great theatres with his Living Dangerously presentation, for which tickets have been selling fast. Yet, wherever he has wandered – and there are not many places where he has not wandered – he reveals that he likes nothing better than telling people that he is from Windsor.
“What an amazing address,” he said. “Windsor is well-known all over the world so it is always with great pride that I tell people I am orginally from Windsor. Not only is it my birthplace but I actually went to school nearby at a little place called Eton. A lot happened in between, of course. My father died four months before I was born so we never met but we have quite a family history and I was able to learn much about him and our ancestors going back hundreds of years.
“My mother took us off to South Africa for some years, but when I came back I went to Eton School, so once again I was in the area and it fascinated me to explore Windsor and the surrounding area, something I have never tired of. Like the rest of the world Windsor has seen many changes but essentially it remains the same experience of living history, from the great castle to the river and racecourse, the wonderful parks and so
many little roads and mews that talk to you about their special bit of history and the life they have seen.”
Ranulph, like his father, served in the Army but his fame has mostly come from his amazing exploration challenges, which have seen him travel all over the globe in extremes of heat and cold, height and depth.
“I don’t know if I have gone in search of danger or anything like that but I have tended to embrace whatever opportunities presented themselves. For instance, it wasn’t an ambition but I became the youngest captain in the British Army – even though I didn’t deserve it! – and that inspired my love of exploring,” he said.
“I have had many expeditions and included among my favourites was finding an Arab city with my first wife, Ginny, and in the first year after we got married, we did our first journey together – a 2000-mile long trip down one of the toughest rivers in the world, in a rubber dinghy. Later in life, I became the oldest Brit up Everest and the oldest pensioner in Great Britain to go up the north face of the Eiger! I’ve tried to get a good mix of polar exploring, and enjoyed my other adventures.”
Ranulph speaks glowingly of his first wife, Ginny, who he met when he was 12 and she was just nine. Following her death, Ranulph later married again and considers himself to be fortunate.
“Ginny was my wife for 36 years. I couldn’t have asked for better and I never expected that I would have another wonderful wife, but along came Louise and I am enjoying a second marvellous marriage,” he said. “In fact, Louise is probably more heroic than I will ever be. Despite climbing Everest I have a fear of heights and so I hold the ladder while Louise climbs up and gets the leaves out of our gutters. Some hero, eh?”
So having been just about everywhere and explored almost everything, what is left?
“I’m not sure really, I do tend to concentrate on one thing at a time and much of 2020 is going to be spent travelling from theatre to theatre, so I shall be exploring the great theatre dressing rooms of Britain. After that there are a few ideas but I don’t like to say too much in case I don’t do it. I don’t see myself retiring though. I am now in my mid-70s, sort of, but there’s a bit of life in the old dog yet so there will be something to follow this theatre tour, I am sure. Perhaps I will do a tour of Berkshire and point out all the fascinating things the county has to offer.”
“I have been travelling through different parts of the world for many years now and I never tire of seeing things that are either new to me or that I am re-visiting. I do find myself worrying about the planet though.
I am not jumping on any bandwagon but I believe we really do live in anxious times,” said Sir Ranulph.
“Sorting out the plastic in the ocean is a good start, rather than trying to tackle things you can’t even see. Everyone can do something about that, whereas something complicated like tackling carbon monoxide is more difficult to get
the public interested in. If the whole of the motor industry had to switch to electric vehicles that would be good – then we would be heading in the right direction.
“I am not picking on any particular sector. We are all humans and we are all in this together.”