The Partnership has a target to deliver at least two cross border projects and has agreed to progress the International Appalachian Trail as the first of these projects with others currently being scoped.
International Appalachian Trail (IAT)
The International Appalachian Trail is a long distance walking/hiking route which started in US and Canada and extended to Europe, with the IAT Ulster Ireland section formally launched in 2013. When expansion is complete, the IAT will be the largest trail network in the world and is recognised as a key potential driver for rural economic development.
Derry & Strabane Rural Partnership has been nominated as the lead partner in taking forward a joint cooperation project to develop the IAT. Other participating LAGs include Donegal, Fermanagh & Omagh, Mid Ulster, Causeway Coast and Glens and Mid & East Antrim – who have come together as an IAT Inter-LAG Working Group.
In October 2016, a group of 18 representatives from the six LAGs undertook a best practice study to West Scotland. The group visited sections of the IAT in Scotland including the West Highland Way, Ayrshire Coastal Path and Mull of Galloway Trail. A key element of learning included the economic impact of the West Highland Way which is the most established of the IAT sections in Scotland.
In April 2017, Outdoor Recreation NI was appointed to undertake a scoping study relating to the development and enhancement of the IAT Ulster-Ireland with a view to submitting a joint bid for funding by the six LAGs. The purpose of the study was to help identify gaps and priorities that could be addressed through a cooperation project (e.g. access, signposting, infrastructure, service provision and marketing) while also identifying opportunities to grow business along the route and deliver community benefits. This study is now complete and LAGs are progressing to the development of a full project (capital works and marketing) to address the findings of the report.
Click here for further information on the International Appalachian Trail including its route, promotional videos and details of the international trail.