Members of the Ireland North West delegation who are currently visiting the United States, have met with various groups in Boston to discuss ongoing development of the Ulster Ireland section of the International Appalachian Trail. The North West delegation is made up of civic leaders, officials and education institutions from the Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council areas who are in the US to explore opportunities for business and educational partnerships. The US groups the delegation have met with, include officials from the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC), the Appalachian Trial Conservancy (ATC) and the International Appalachian Trail (IAT).
The Ulster Ireland International Appalachian Trail is one of eighteen chapters which share a common geological heritage, the Appalachian-Caledonian Mountains, which formed more than 250 Million years ago. While the Appalachian Mountains are traditionally associated with North America and specifically the eastern United States and Canada, its geology can be found also in Greenland, Scandinavia, the British Isles and Europe and North Africa.
The International Appalachian Trail running from the US to Canada was first developed in 1994 on the basis of this geology, and has since been extended throughout the world with Ulster Ireland joining in 2013. The Ulster Ireland section of the trail measures a distance of 302 Miles (485KM). Starting at the Slieve League cliffs in Co Donegal, the trail crosses into County Tyrone where it picks up the Ulster Way and takes in the Sperrins, the North Coast and the Glens of Antrim.
At the heart of discussions, was the promotion and development of the route. At the meeting in Boston yesterday, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr Michaela Boyle, outlined Council’s ongoing commitment to the development of the International Appalachian Trail (IAT).
“We very much share the IAT’s goal to connect people and places by establishing through our shared geology and natural heritage a network of walking trails that extend beyond borders to all geographical regions once connected by the Appalachian Caledonian Mountains,” she said.
The Mayor also went on to highlight how development of the route locally would bring benefits to tourism in the region saying: “It will enable us over the coming months to create a high quality walking experience which we are confident will put us on the map as must visit walking destination.”
Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council, Councillor Nicholas Crossan who is also part of the delegation, expressed similar sentiments. He outlined the potential to promote the unique natural and cultural heritage, that could add value to the wider visitor experience and to increase visitor footfall.
He said: “The International Appalachian Trail is extremely popular with fans of the outdoors and there is great potential for further development in terms of creating bespoke walking and hiking packages for visitors to the region and also help us to focus on the important aspects of rural economic growth.”
Readers can find out further information on the International Appalachian Trail at www.iat-sia.org.
For more information on the trade mission visit www.irelandNW.com and follow the hashtag #IrelandNW19.