IAT Holds Annual Meeting in Plymouth, England

From October 6-9, the International Appalachian Trail held its Annual General Meeting in and around the historic city of Plymouth, England, in conjunction with a National Trails Annual Meeting.  

AGM 2014 - IMG_3207e2s(click on photo to make larger)

The event was hosted by the South West Coast Path National Trail, and included tours of Dartmoor National Park, English Riviera Geopark and South Devon AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).



The October 7 Meeting was held at the National Marine Aquarium on the waterfront in Plymouth



and was sponsored in part by this home port of Sir Francis Drake, first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe (1577-80), and Sir Humphrey Gilbert, adventurer, soldier and member of Parliament who established the first English colony in the New World at Newfoundland in 1583.


Sir Francis Drake statue on Plymouth Hoe


Plymouth was also the departure point of the Mayflower Pilgrims, who established the Plymouth Colony near Boston in 1620, and home of the British Navy's Royal William Victualling Yard.


The meeting was opened by Plymouth Deputy Lord Mayor Pauline Murphy and Council Leader Tudor Evans

(L-R) Front: Dave Startzell, former Executive Director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy; Tudor Evans, Plymouth Council Leader; Deputy Lord Mayor Pauline Murphy; Councillor Brian Vincent, Consort to Deputy Lord Mayor; Don Hudson, IAT Maine President; Back: Mark Owen, South West Coast Path Manager and Paul Wylezol, IAT Chairperson


and after updates on Bill Duffy's IAT map


and chapter progress

IAT England Rep and Pennine Way Trail Officer Steve Westwood gives a presentation on UK National Trails


the agenda followed a series of presentations, including one entitled "50 Shades of Grey" on motivation and inspiration by BBC Presenter and University of Plymouth Professor Iain Stewart.



Melanie Border, Coordinator of English Riviera Geopark and Chair of the UK Global Geoparks Forum, gave a presentation on Global Geoparks and her nearby English Riviera Geopark, which will play host to the 7th International UNESCO Conference on Global Geoparks in September 2016.



Soil scientist Alan Stapleton gave a presentation entitled "Soils Bring Appalachian Rock to Life" on the various soil types found underfoot along the IAT and adjacent landscapes.



AGM host Mark Owen, Trail Officer with the South West Coast Path National Trail, gave a presentation on "Devon Trails and Tourism".


After the various presentations, IAT Maine President Don Hudson introduced a project promoted by IAT Founder Richard "Dick" Anderson:  "Legends of Appalachian-Caledonian Geology".  All hands were in favour of the project that would honour deceased geologists who played an important role in the understanding of Appalachian-Caledonian geology. 



Don then read a letter of support from Appalachian Trail Conservancy Executive Director and CEO Ron Tipton, and with the help of former ATC Executive Director Dave Startzell, described next year's ATC Biennial which the IAT will attend and give presentations.



The final item on the agenda was the selection of an IAT Europe Vice Chair.  That position was recently vacated by Magne Haugseng, who in the past couple of years did an outstanding job establishing the IAT across Northern Ireland.   IAT Scotland Rep and BGS Marketing Sector Manager Hugh Barron, who first invited the IAT to visit Scotland in June 2009, will take over the position.  Earlier this year, Hugh attended the IAT 20th Anniversary meeting in Maine and then travelled to Western Newfoundland to give a presentation on Global Geoparks at a Cabox Geopark meeting.


Hugh Barron giving an update on IAT Scotland during the 2014 AGM


On the final day of the 2014 AGM, the South West Coast Path's Mark Owen and Plymouth's Plymotion Project's Andrew Thompson led the IAT and National Trail groups on a trek of the SWCP around Plymouth Sound.  


They stopped for lunch with Lord Mayor Michael Robert Fox and his wife at Royal William Victualling Yard


before continuing on to the Mayflower Steps.



The 2014 IAT AGM was a great opportunity for IAT reps to once again get together and share notes and adventure.  A special thanks goes out to Mark Owen for planning the terrific 4-day event and to Alan Stapleton for planning the day-long tour of English Riviera Geopark and South Devon AONB. 


Thanks also goes out to the Leader, Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor of Plymouth for their participation and sponsorship, and to the various presenters, in particular Iain Stewart and Melanie Border.  We look forward to coming back again for the 7th International UNESCO Conference on Global Geoparks and the 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower voyage.  Like it, the IAT also connects Europe and America!

Stay tuned for another story on Plymouth and the Devon tours during AGM week!