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The International Appalachian Trail (IAT) Ulster Ireland is a 449-kilometre coast-to-coast cross-border walking trail. Beginning at Slieve League in Co. Donegal, the trail traverses four counties and finishes at the port of Larne in Co. Antrim. Along the route, walkers can experience breath-taking scenery, historic landmarks, diverse culture and heritage sites.


Views from the top of Slieve League in Co. Donegal, the starting point of the 449-kilometre walking trail – image source: IAT Ulster Ireland

In 2016, led by Donegal Local Development CLG in the Republic of Ireland, and Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership in Northern Ireland, six Local Action Groups (LAGs) came together to determine whether there would be sufficient interest in taking the IAT forward as a cooperation project and to assess its potential economic and community benefit to each of the areas involved. Based on the findings of an Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland (ORNI) scoping study, a decision was taken to proceed.

LEADER funding was successfully sought to develop and improve the physical infrastructure along the IAT with a significant investment directed towards marketing the route. Among the benefits has been the establishment of an international standard high quality walking experience; increased uniformity across the route with regard to trail infrastructure, branding and marketing; and the creation of a strong working relationship between the partner LAGs involved.

To read the full case study, please see here.

This cross-border cooperation project was supported as part of the LEADER Programme 2014-2020 (extended to 2022). Participating LAGs include Donegal Local Development CLG, Derry and Strabane Rural Partnership, Causeway Coast and Glens LAG, Fermanagh and Omagh LAG, Mid-Ulster Rural Development Partnership, and Mid and East Antrim LAG.