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The International Appalachian Trail - Ulster Ireland

Click here to view a promotional video

Click here to access visitor information on walking the trail (Walk NI website)

The Route

In its entirety the Ulster Ireland section of the International Appalachian Trail measures approximately 282 miles/ 453km.  The route is located in the province of Ulster in Ireland and crosses four counties (Donegal, Tyrone, Derry/Londonderry and Antrim) and six council areas (Donegal, Derry City & Strabane, Fermanagh & Omagh, Mid Ulster, Causeway Coast & Glens and Mid & East Antrim).

In terms of its course, the route runs from west Donegal in the Republic of Ireland to Larne, Co Antrim in Northern Ireland.  It starts at Bunglas Viewpoint in the spectacular Sliabh Liag Mountains and passes through the Blue Stack Mountains in Co Donegal before crossing the border into Northern Ireland.  Here the route picks up the Ulster Way where it takes in the landscapes of Tyrone and the Sperrins, passes onto the Giant’s Causeway and the stunning north Antrim coastline before traversing the Glens of Antrim and finishing at the port of Larne.

Background

The Ulster Ireland chapter of the International Appalachian Trail (IAT) was formally launched in August 2013.  It is one of an ever expanding number of chapters which comprise the International Appalachian Trail family and which include among others Maine in the US, Quebec in Canada, Iceland, England, Scotland, Wales, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, France, Spain and Morocco.

All chapters share a common mission which is to establish a network of walking trails that extends beyond borders to all geographic regions once connected by the Appalachian-Caledonian orogen, formed more than 250 million years ago on the super-continent Pangea.

In addition to connecting people and places, however, the goal is to also 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 IAT continues to expand into new areas of Appalachian terrains, based on the original premise that the trail will eventually connect all the mountains that were created when the ancient continent Pangaea was formed. When expansion is complete, the IAT will be the largest trail network, and one of the largest outdoor adventure brands in the world, with a presence in 21 “countries” and 3 continents, and a home market of over 800 million people.

Click here to access further information on the international trail.

IAT Ulster Ireland Steering Group

The IAT Ulster Ireland comprises of a wide number of stakeholders including:

  • Causeway Coat and Glens Borough Council
  • Derry City and Strabane District Council
  • Fermanagh and Omagh District Council
  • Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
  • Mid Ulster District Council  
  • Tourism NI
  • ORNI
  • Geological Survey for Northern Ireland
  • National Trust NI
  • Loughs Agency
  • Causeway Coast and Glens Heritage Trust
  • Sperrin Outdoor Recreation Forum
  • Ulster Federation of Rambling Clubs
  • Donegal Local Development Company
  • Failte Ireland
  • Tourism Ireland
  • Dept of Foreign Affairs
  • Irish Sports Council
  • Atlantic Corridor

Two elected representatives are nominated by Council to sit on the Ulster Ireland Chapter of the International Appalachian Trail working group. Click here for further information.

Timeline: Key Events & DevelopMent

2013: Formal launch of IAT Ulster Ireland at the Ulster American Folk Park on 31st August 2013;

2013: Joe Norman nicknamed “Cotton Joe” from North Carolina became the first walker to complete the entire IAT Ulster Ireland route;

2013: IAT Ulster Ireland web link goes live on Walk NI website;.

2014: IAT Ulster Ireland Chapter hosts IAT AGM in September 2016;

2016: LAGs* agree to progress the development of the IAT Ulster Ireland as a North/South Co-operation project through the Rural Development Programme;

2017: Scoping study of development needs of the IAT Ulster Ireland trail commissioned by Derry & Strabane Rural Partnership on behalf of partner LAGs (April to October 2017);

*Donegal, Derry-Strabane, Fermanagh-Omagh, Mid-Ulster, Causeway Coast & Glens and Mid & East Antrim