The International Appalachian Trail
The South West Coast Path is proud to be part of the network of hiking routes that make up the International Appalachian Trail (IAT). This is a network of hiking trails that extend from the northern tip of the Appalachian Trail across the North Atlantic in North America and continues for another 1800 miles up the east coast through Maine, Quebec and Newfoundland. It then crosses the Atlantic via Greenland and Iceland to link up routes in Scandinavia down the western edge of Europe and into Morocco.
The basis of this network, is a shared Appalachian geology. The Appalachian - Caledonian Mountains were formed more than 250 million years ago, when North America and Europe were joined together as part of the supercontinent Pangea. Since then as the tectonic plates moved apart to form the Atlantic, remnants of the Appalachians ended up in Greenland, Scandinavia, the British Isles, Brittany, the Iberian Peninsula, and the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and Algeria. What time and the expanding Atlantic Ocean separated, the International Appalachian Trail is now bringing back together.
In addition to connecting people and places, the International Appalachian Trail aims to promote natural and cultural heritage, health and fitness, environmental stewardship, fellowship and understanding, cross-border cooperation, and rural economic development through eco and geo tourism.
Once the American part of the IAT was in place, talk turned to extending it further to extend it across the other side of the Atlantic, and link up with Trails in countries that share this geological link. The English National Trails became part of the IAT in 2014. This was marked at the IAT AGM in October 2014 hosted by the South West Coast Path in Plymouth. Plymouth was chosen due to its strong links to the USA, with 2020 being the 400th Anniversary of the Pilgrim Fathers setting off from here on the Mayflower. To get a feel for what the delegates packed into their 4 day visit check out their news page.
The International Appalachian Trail is continuing to add new partners and most recently has extended into Morocco and now incorporates around 12,000 miles of Trail – you can find out their amazing variety of routes to explore on their website.