Sir Ranulph and his five-man team will cross the continent during winter over a six-month period. Going with them will be two machines to help carry their equipment.
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The new scheme aims to speed up the permission process and allow applicants to apply from overseas and work in Ireland.
Since January 2010 there have been 35 collisions on the Thames involving older boats.
IPPR North research says the figure rises to seven times per person when compared with Yorkshire and the Humber or the North East.