An innovative multi-million euro walking and recreational trails project at eight European locations, where Donegal County Council was the lead partner, launched its final toolkit on Wednesday 8th March in An Grianan Hotel, Burt.
The Atlantic Area Trail Gazers Project included trails in spectacular locations from Donegal to Portugal. The Trail Gazers project aimed to determine the impact of significant investment which was made over the years into developing walking and recreational trails across the Atlantic Area on sustaining rural communities and explored innovative ways that this impact can be enhanced.
As part of Enterprise Week 2023, Trail Gazers, hosted a Social Enterprise event to launch the culmination of the work and research carried out on the project over the past 3 years. The toolkit, entitled, Trail Gazers – The Legacy outlines all the learning and tools developed as part of the project all packaged into one easy to access Toolkit! From digital marketing to trail management, destination packaging and creating action plans for the wider catchment this Toolkit will be a valuable resource to all those interested in developing walking trails.
Speaking at the event, Killian McLaughlin, Wild Ireland outlined the work they do, how they have collaborated with other tourism providers including Amazing Grace Yacht Charters and the Wild Alpaca Way to increase visitors dwell time in the area and how important it is that we all protect and respect our Irish Ecosystem. Aengus Kennedy, Nature North West again highlighted the importance of conservation and Jason Black shared his brutally honest story and how nature and the outdoors was his savior.
Catherine McLaughlin, Research and Planning Officer with Trail Gazers explained how the toolkit pulls together into one place all the tools and key learning from the project. She said that the digital format would make it easy to access, download and share.
After the seminar, participants went to visit the trail at Inch Wildfowl Reserve for a leisurely cycle to see the Trail Gazers tools in action.
Trail Gazers was situated at eight pilot trail sites in 'Chemin De Mémoires', in Bretagne, France; ‘Via Verde del Plazola' in Navarra, Spain; 'La Caldera de Taburiente’ on the Canary Island of Las Palma; the 'Seven Hanging Valleys' in the Algarve, Portugal; 'Sacred Mountain' in Viana do Castelo, Northern Portugal; the ‘Taff Trail’ in West Wales and the Valleys; the ‘Knocknarea/Killaspugbrone loop‘ in Sligo and 'Inch Wildfowl Reserve’ in Donegal.
Project Manager for Trail Gazers, Mary McBride from Donegal County Council said ‘it is very rewarding to see all the project work published in one document which will be a vital resource for community groups and policy makers going forward. The shared learning gives us great insights on best practice. This will be a very adaptable resource which can be applied to any trail or tourism site in our county.’
For more information on the Trail Gazers project, check out our websitewww.trailgazers.eu. Trail Gazers is co-financed by the Interreg Atlantic Area Programme through the European Regional Development Fund.
Image Caption: Back Row L to R – Trudi O’Reilly DCC Access Officer, Clodagh Murray Sláintecare Healthy Communites Development OfficerCllr. Albert Doherty, Michael Carty Sligo County Council, Caroline Morrison University of Ulster, Conor Lafferty Tourism Unit DCC, Mary Daly Communications & Research Officer Trail Gazers Project DCC, Cllr. Barry Sweeny, Anne Marie Conlon Head of Economic Development DCC. Front Row L to R– Mary McBride Trail Gazers Project Manager DCC, Jason Black, Aengus Kennedy Nature North West, Catherine McLaughlin Trail Gazers Research and Planning Officer DCC