IAT Welcomes 9 New European Chapters
On October 7, during the Adventure Travel World Summit in Aviemore, Scotland, the International Appalachian Trail welcomed nine new European chapters to its growing international trail network.
Coast Alive partners in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and England, along with partners in Ireland, Wales, the Faroe Islands, and Iceland, joined what is quickly becoming one of the largest trail networks and premier outdoor adventure brands in the world.
The goal of the IAT is to extend its trail network to all countries and regions once united by the supercontinent Pangea more than 250 million years ago, when the Appalachian, Caledonian, and Atlas Mountains were formed by earth's plate tectonics. As Hugh Barron of the British Geological Survey eloquently pointed out, the IAT is a movement bringing these separate and distinct regions together again.
The October meeting was held at the Cairngorm Hotel in Aviemore, conveniently located opposite the town's charming Victorian era railroad station.
In attendance were:
- Paul Wylezol - President, IAT
- Hugh Barron - Team Leader, British Geological Survey
- Magne Haugseng - Director, Coast Alive
- Gordon Forrester - Manager, West Highland Way; Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park
- Scott Armstrong - Regional Director, Visit Scotland
- Ciara Scully - Product Development Officer, Failte Ireland
- Mads Skifte - Development Manager, Greenland Tourism and Business Bureau
- Fanny Bergström - West Sweden Tourism Board
- Lynda Dodd - Route Manager, Great Glenn Way
- Tom Forrest - Cape Wrath Trail and Wester Ross Alliance
- Tom Stevenson - Chairman, Stranraer Rotary Coastal Path Group
- Vincent Cuddihy - Rotary Club of Allander
- Brian Gregson - Chairman, Shetland Amenity Trust
- Alan Blain - Deputy Manager, Shetland Amenity Trust
- Inga Bock - Donegal Local Development Co.
- Andrew Morgan - Ramblers Cymru (Wales)
- Helen Todd - Development Officer, Ramblers Scotland
- George Duff - Countryside and Long Distance Route Manager, Highland Council
- Fiona Downie - Manager, Wester Ross Alliance
- Roy MacPherson - Wester Ross Alliance
- Mark Flagler - Flagler Films
- Rick Stanley - NL Adventure Tourism Association
- Chris McHugo - Discover Ltd, Morocco
- Dorothy Breckenridge - C-N-Do Scotland
- Tomas Bergenfeldt - Managing Director, Stockholm Adventures
During the meeting, BGS's Hugh Barron gave a short presentation on the 500 million+ year geological history of the Appalachian and Caledonian tectonic plates, after which Coast Alive's Magne Haugseng and Greenland Tourism's Mads Skifte gave photo presentations of their respective regions. Mark Flager followed with his short 6.5 minute IAT Newfoundland Labrador promotional video produced in 2009, using it to discuss plans for a 3-hour television documentary of the IAT, to follow the huge success of his 2-hour adventure documentary Appalachian Impressions, viewed by more than one million US households on the American PBS television network.
In addition to giving a brief account of the history and future plans of the IAT and welcoming new European chapters, IAT President Paul Wylezol also discussed other aspects of the IAT mission, including the promotion of health and fitness, natural and cultural heritage, environmental stewardship, fellowship and understanding, cross-border cooperation, and rural economic development.
While in Scotland, Paul also attended the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) World Summit, where outdoor adventure operators, writers, and tourism DMOs get the opportunity to network and sell their products,
(l-r) Dr Mike Cantlay, Chairman, Visit Scotland; Guest Speaker Mark Beaumont, Corporate Ambassador, LDC, and current world record holder for the circumnavigation of the world by bicycle; and Paul Wylezol, President IAT - at the ATTA World Summit in Aviemore
and hiked the Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags trails in Edinburg.
The new IAT Europe trails include the Coast Alive (www.coastalive.eu) partner trails along the scenic western coast of Norway, including the much photographed Geiranger Fiord,
the more gentle coastlines of Swedish Halland, Denmark and Netherlands,
and the majestic sea cliffs of England's North York Moors National Park.
Other new IAT trails in the UK include Scotland's Ayrshire and Loch Ryan Coastal Paths(www.ayrshirecoastalpath.org),
the wild and scenic Cape Wrath Trail (www.capewrathtrail.co.uk),
and the Pembrokeshire Coast Path (http://nt.pcnpa.org.uk) in Wales.
In Ireland IAT committee members continue to fine tune their route, which will include scenic sections of the rugged coastline in Donegal County
and the Ulster Trail in Northern Ireland.
In the Faroe Islands, the IAT will follow the spectacular scenery along the Rustin Trail
while in Iceland it will wind among backcountry geysers on the Kjalvegur Trail.
And in Greenland new IAT trails have been added in the southwest, near the capital city of Nuuk.
Nuuk, Capital City of Greenland
With 2010's trail building, maintenance, expansion, thru-hiking, rambling, walking, and crawling soon coming to a close, the IAT is already setting its sights on 2011. Plans call for the expansion of the IAT into Spain, Portugal and Morocco, with an eye also on Germany, France, and Belgium. Contacts have already been made, but much still needs to be done.
With the cooperation of like-minded individuals, groups, and organizations, and government agencies and departments, who share the IAT goal of crossing natural and man-made boundaries while protecting public values and individual opportunity, the International Appalachian Trail will achieve its objective of extending to all former Appalachian-Caledonian regions, and become one of the largest trail networks - and biggest outdoor adventure brands - in the world.