We start off our series of ‘Paths and People’ blogs with the story of Michael ‘Mick the Vic’ Storey, a West Yorkshire-based vicar with an evangelical enthusiasm for the Yorkshire Three Peaks. 

What do the mountains mean to you?

Why are landscapes important to us? Why do we develop connections to lumps of rock and particular plots of earth? How can geological accidents like hills or mountains seem to take on their own eccentricities, personalities and moods? Why do we find ourselves revisiting the same places again and again? 

We go into the outdoors for many different reasons and motivations: challenge, exploration, wildlife, adventure, relaxation, fitness, friendship or social connection to name a few. But along the way, many of us find ourselves developing bonds to outdoor spaces that can last a lifetime. Humans form a part of the landscape but the landscape can also become part of us.

Whernside, in the Yorkshire Dales. Photo: Shutterstock / DMC Photogallery

Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million is about repairing the heavily-trodden routes we take through the hills, mountains and landscapes we treasure. But it is about more than just tidying up a few muddy paths – it is about protecting the health and integrity of places which are hugely important to many people. 

This is the first in a series of blogs on this website designed to explore the bonds people make with particular landscapes. Called ‘Paths and People’, it will be a collection of tales of personal connection to the places featured in the campaign.

We start off with the potted life story of Michael ‘Mick the Vic’ Storey, a West Yorkshire-based vicar with an evangelical passion for the Yorkshire Three Peaks. Mick also features in the film describing why repairs are need to Yorkshire’s highest hill, Whernside, which you can watch below. 

WATCH: Why Whernside needs your help 

I am 81 years old. I’ve been up Pen-y-ghent 75 times, Ingleborough 42 times, and Whernside 40 times. I’ve done the Yorkshire Three Peaks as a whole 28 times.

Over the years I’ve led 758 people up Pen y Ghent. What drives me is the satisfaction of sharing the countryside with others, to get people out into the world.

The Yorkshire countryside satisfies anybody’s interest in the outdoors. There’s something for everybody. They say Yorkshire is god’s own country. It’s not a misnomer, it’s true. Getting people outdoors is missionary work.

When I got to 80, I didn’t want any presents. I had all I needed. Instead I decided to draw together friends from my lifetime and take them on a walk. As a vicar you meet a lot of people over the years, so about 100 people took part. Most of these people have walked with me at some point in the past. We walked around Bolton Abbey and afterwards in the pub we passed a bucket around for donations to path work.

We collected £1100. It was enough to put flagstones on Ingleborough for 44 yards, the length of two cricket pitches.

There has been a huge change in popularity over the years on the Three Peaks. In the sixties when you went up Pen y Ghent, Whernside or Ingleborough there were only single file paths and you could easily get lost. Then these huge scars appeared. The paths are needed to cope with that.

I would never dream of barring anybody from the outdoors. But it does have to be looked after.

I’ve got a heart condition, so I shall never go up any of these hills again. I’m very sad about that, but I’ve got the memories.