Ulster Way now linked with a US mountain range trail

George J. Mitchell with IAT founder member Richard Anderson
George J. Mitchell with IAT founder member Richard Anderson

A rebranding exercise which links the Ulster Way to a chain of US mountains officially takes effect from today.

A stretch of the Province-wide walking route will come under the umbrella of the International Appalachian Trail, and the new designation is being launched at the Appalachian and Bluegrass Festival in Omagh at 2pm.

At the same time hikers will gather in the Brian Boru pub in Portland, Maine, at what would be 9am for them.

Organisers said: “Although only 9am in the morning, turnout is likely to be very good. They have been watching progress here since the very beginning of the work.”

The trail will keep its original name of Ulster Way, but the new branding will sit side-by-side with it, effectively meaning the trail is regarded as an overseas extension of the US one.

It is hoped the move will raise Ulster’s profile worldwide and pull in more visitors.

The fresh branding for the trail will run from Slieve League in Co Donegal to Larne and former US senator George Mitchell – who has been said to be a keen walker himself –called the move a “wonderful accomplishment”.

Donegal TD Joe McHugh is expected to be at the launch, plus Stormont Environment Minister Mark H Durkan.

The latter said: “This largely rural route will boost trade and prosperity in the areas that it covers, and it’s great that our environment and rich heritage are helping do that.”