International Appalachian Trail (IAT) Ulster Ireland Project
Funder : Rural Development (RDP) Co-Operation Scheme
In 2016 Derry & Strabane Rural Partnership was nominated as the lead partner to progress a joint RDP cooperation project to develop the IAT Ulster Ireland. Providing support are the Local Action Groups and Councils areas which comprise the IAT. These are covering Donegal, Derry City & Strabane, Fermanagh & Omagh, Mid Ulster, Causeway Coast and Glens and Mid & East Antrim. Development works include route enhancement works and a programme of marketing activity.
The Ulster-Ireland Section of the International Appalachian Trail established in 2011 is a 282mile (453km) length of coast-to-coast walking/hiking trail.
It starts at Bunglas Viewpoint in Sliabh Liag Mountains in West Donegal in the Republic of Ireland and ends in the town of Larne in Country Antrim, on the East Coast of Northern Ireland.
The entire route is located in the Province of Ulster in Ireland and as its length crosses four Counties including Donegal, Tyrone, Derry/Londonderry and Antrim it is therefore both in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
It crosses 6 Council areas with varying distances in each Council (see below)
·Donegal County Council - 72miles
·Derry Strabane Council - 41miles
·Fermanagh Omagh Council - 24miles
·Mid Ulster Council - 9miles
·Causeway Coast & Glens Council - 115miles
·Mid and East Antrim - 23miles
The unique selling point of the IAT Ulster-Ireland is the geological links to the Appalachian Mountains and it is now part of the world famous International Appalachian Trail family with walking trails across 3 Continents & 21 Countries, including US, Canada, Iceland, England, Scotland, England, Wales, Netherland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France, Spain and Morocco.
The world-renowned IAT brand has a common goal to establish a network of trails that extends borders to all geographic regions once connected by the Appalachian- Caledonian orogen, formed 250 million years ago on the super-continent Pangea.
The aim is to connect people and places, however, and promote natural and cultural heritage, health and fitness, environmental stewardship, fellowship and understanding, cross – border cooperation, and rural economic development through eco and geo tourism.
The Ulster-Ireland route is rich in landscape, attractions and experiences, taking in stunning mountain ranges of the Blue Stacks, Areas of Outstanding Beauty - the Sperrins, World Heritage sites – Giants Causeway, Forestry – Glens of Antrim, and Stunning Coastlines - Slieve League with each of the Council areas offering their own unique attributes at each section.
The Ulster-Ireland section forms part of the overall expansion to connect the original mountain range, and when complete the IAT aims to be the largest trail network and one of the largest outdoor adventure brands in the world.