Cotton Joe takes up the challenge
Joe Norman, who is known as Cotton Joe to his friends, hails from North Carolina in the USA. He works as a field officer but has taken time off to walk the International Appalachian Trail (IAT). Before coming this summer to the UK he had already walked the trail in Maine, New Brunswick, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Foundland and Labrador – a total of 1484 miles!
The Northern Ireland section of the International Appalachian Trail was opened at the end of August this year and Cotton Joe was the first to hike the full length of the trail which runs from Slieve League in Donegal to Larne. Joe crossed to Cairnryan on 30 September with a view to walking the Scottish Section of the IAT starting at the Mull of Galloway and ending at Cape Wrath, a total of 464 miles. After arriving at the Mull he had a look around the lighthouse and climbed the 115 steps to the top of the lighthouse tower.
From the Mull the route takes in the Mull of Galloway Trail and the Loch Ryan Coastal Path which were both created by the Rotary Club of Stranraer. At Glenapp it continues as the Ayrshire Coastal Path which joins the Clyde Coastal Path at Skelmorlie. This in turn runs to Milngavie to the start of the West Highland Way. North of Fort William the Cape Wrath Trail, which is longest part of the IAT in Scotland, is reached and which goes through some of the wildest country in Scotland.
Joe has been making good progress and while on the West Highland Way he climbed Ben Lomond and Ben Nevis. The last report from him came on 25 October when he was passing through Knoydart on the Cape Wrath Trail. He is now well on his way to be the first to walk from the most southerly point in Scotland to the most north westerly!
The photos show Cotton Joe above the cliffs near to the Mull of Galloway and at Brig o Doon, Ayr.