IAT Long Distance Walking Trail Scoping Study

Client: IAT (Inter-LAG) Cooperation Working Group

The Challenge

To supply a scoping study relating to the development and enhancement of the Ulster Ireland section of the International Appalachian Trail measuring a distance of 302 miles (485 kilometres) from west Donegal in the Republic of Ireland to Larne, Co. Antrim in Northern Ireland.

The scoping study required:

  • Provision of an overview analysis of the strategic context
  • Provision of an audit of the baseline and a review of IAT and its component parts
  • Identification of opportunities to develop the trail and maximise economic benefit
  • Identification of priorities & actions
  • Provision of an options appraisal
  • Provision of a series of recommendations to facilitate project delivery.

The Role

To deliver the project we undertook the following actions:

  • A detailed examination of the strategic context in which the project will operate
  • Facilitation a one-day workshop with key officers from each Council area to agree a consensus approach to ensure consistency across sections / stakeholders
  • An on the ground review in the priority areas (up to a maximum of 60 miles in total) to critically assess physical infrastructure and sustainability
  • Utilization of GIS Mapping to undertake a mapping exercise to:
    • critically review and assess the physical course taken by the existing trail (entire route) to determine if this is the optimum route
    • reflect findings from on the ground review of priority sections
    • dovetail these findings alongside the holistic route i.e. the other sections of the route to which the on ground review did not apply
  • Primary research (9 workshops, online surveys and one-to-one consultation) to ascertain visitor experience, marketing, brand recognition and economic impact
  • International best practice benchmarking to ascertain economic benefit and critical factors for success
  • Identification of priorities holistically for the Ulster Ireland IAT, and those specific to each LAG/Council area in relation to the opportunities identified
  • Development of a SWOT analysis for each element of the project and consider the feasibility including economic analysis of each development component
  • Development of a set of key recommendations in relation to the steps and actions required to move the project from the feasibility phase to completion

Project Funders

  • IAT (Inter-LAG) Cooperation Working Group including:
    • Derry City and Strabane District Council
    • Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council
    • Fermanagh and Omagh District Council
    • Mid Ulster District Council
    • Mid and East Antrim Borough Council
    • Donegal Local Development Company
    • Udaras na Gaeltacht