At the IAT Annual General Meeting in Strabane, Northern Ireland on September 22, IAT Ulster Ireland officials expressed interest in touring sections of IAT Scotland to learn about trail planning and development by their northern neighbour.  Follow the Mull of Galloway Trail’s Tom Stevenson as he reports on the October 19 visit.

Tom Stevenson and his wife Sheila (center) at 2016 pre-AGM Dinner at Guildhall in Derry, Northern Ireland

“When I attended the AGM of the International Appalachian Trail in Strabane last September I met some of the officials and Councillors from Donegal and the Northern Ireland Councils. They indicated that they intended to visit the west coast of Scotland to learn about the planning and work which had been carried out on the Scottish sections of the IAT.

A group of 18 from the NI Councils and Donegal travelled by coach crossing the ferry to Cairnryan on Wednesday 19 October and firstly made their way to Balloch to learn about the West Highland Way. The following day they met up with Rotarians from Ayr to view sections of the Ayrshire Coastal Path.

Ayrshire Coastal Path

That evening they arrived at North West Castle Hotel, Stranraer where three Stranraer Rotarians joined them for dinner and gave a presentation on the Mull of Galloway Trail which included details of planning, grant funding and the works carried out. The following morning three Rotarians met the group at the hotel and firstly took them to see the information boards and signs adjacent to the Tourist Information Office. Thereafter all boarded the coach following the trail most of the way to the Mull of Galloway. Two stops were made in order that the members of the Irish group could walk parts of the trail and another stop was made at the Tigh na Mara Hotel in Sandhead for coffee.

IAT Ulster Ireland’s Inga Bock at the Mull of Galloway Lighthouse

On arrival at the Mull the weather was bright and sunny which enabled the group to enjoy the fine views to Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and over Luce Bay. Dumfries & Galloway Council hosted a lunch at Gallie Craig Coffee shop at the Mull where Council officials welcomed the Irish visitors. The Council leaders highlighted the value of the trail to the local community and details were given of the plans for the construction of the new Rhins of Galloway Coastal Path. Members from the Irish group responded and talked about further cross border cooperation in the future. They confirmed that their trip had been very successful in that they had learnt an awful lot and now had a much clearer vision for their own trail development going forward.” Tom Stevenson

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