Location and brief descriptionThis short Pass is in North Wales almost at sea level and through it runs Afon, (River), Glaslyn. The Pass starts around a mile South of the lovely Snowdonian village of Beddgelert and is at it’s best for less than a mile on down to Nantmor. To it’s West side is a road and then the lower slopes of, mainly, Hebog, (1783 feet). To it’s East side are steep cliffs leading up to a lovely hill walking area that could possibly count as the foothills of, and the extreme West side of the Moelwyn mountains, rising in stages close to 1,000 feet high: 1250 feet if the summit of the highest of these foothills, Moel y Dyniewyd, is included.
Through the Pass runs a river, a road, a footpath and, for the Northern part only, the recently re-opened narrow gauge Welsh Highland Railway. The latter leaves the pass part way through as it enters a tunnel.
The best way through the pass is to use the footpath on the East of the river and next to the railway. The walking track starts almost level with the water then undulates a bit over some rocky sections, ending a little way above the water and in woods at the Southern end. When the river is in full spate expect to get your feet wet in some places if you walk the path all the way down to the Southern end!
The Pass ends at Nantmor and the river then enters it’s final and broadest phase in flat terrain approaching Porthmadog, where it enters the Irish Sea near to Cardigan Bay and St Georges Channel.
Rivers and catchment areas
It is Afon Glaslyn river that runs through the Pass. A river whose source seems to be mainly SE of Pen y Pass, although it is likely fed from a number of lakes in that area that collect water from the Glyders, part of Snowdon and some of the Moelwyns. None are more than a fairly short distance from the Pass, maybe ten miles at most. One of those lakes, lower down from the source and close to Beddgelert is Llyn Dinas, (photo right).
At Beddgelert the Afon Glaslyn flowing from the NE is joined by the Afon Conwy, a river whose source is close by SE of Rhyd Du, and on the SW slopes of Snowdon.
Both rivers are short, and both rely on the rains falling, (or snow melt), on local mountains for their flow. Which means they react very quickly to weather conditions with their levels rising and falling very quickly. And that of course impacts very considerably on the flow through Aberglaslyn Pass.
Walking the rivers’ catchment areas during and just after periods of very heavy rain that fall locally will ensure you stumble across numerous sources of the water that flows into the two rivers, soon to rush through Aberglaslyn Pass.
This is especially so of the Afon Glaslyn with roaring mountain waterfalls, flooded lakes and even water cascading down steep mountain paths into it’s fast flowing current!
One such day was October 26th 2008, which was bright and sunny at times, but had been preceded by days of torrential rain. Leaving not just a local watefall in full spate and Lake Llyn Dinas flooded, but also the walking track up to Bwlch-y-Sygyn doing it's best to become a full scale waterfall!
Water and Ice 1: After Heavy Rain
Over the past year I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the area during and soon after periods of very heavy rain. In conditions that have seen me walk the pass when the river has been a raging torrent, submerging the rocky path in places.
Thankfully I love bad weather walking, but also enjoy the sunshine as well, seen shining, (left), on part of the Pass after heavy rain in October 2008.
Filled by all the water draining of the mountains to the North, a swollen Afon Glaslyn surges through the Pass in October 2008.
An interesting day to be walking the track that heads through the Pass to the East side of the river.
August 2009 and another hapless lady walking companion of mine is sent into the Pass on a day when wet boots were certain!
Water and Ice 2: During a Very Cold Winter
I've also stayed at Beddgelert during a prolonged dry and very cold spell of weather in the winter of 2008/9.
A spell reckoned by the locals to be the coldest winter for between 20 and 30 years, depending on which local you spoke to!
In conditions where the river had reacted to the extreme cold of a severe winter with the formation of ice on anywhere the flow was slow enough: an unusual phenomenon for a river that was still flowing quite fast over the rocky river bed.
Before even reaching the Pass on January 1st 2009 the impact of the very cold spell of winter weather was very clear. The shallow and fast flowing Afon Conwy was starting to freeze where it ran through Beddgelert, just before the point it flowed into Afon Glaslyn. A week later and the ice was almost all the way across the river here.
And walking on down into the Pass saw a host of vegetation that didn't receive winter sunshine covered in a heavy hoar frost.
The sub zero temperatures in the Pass were welcomed at Lunchtime on January 1st 2009, after a superb evening and night celebrating the New Year's arrival at the Beddgelert Bistro!
Water and ice in the fast flowing Afon Glaslyn.
The Pass is virtually at sea level, and does not often experience severe cold for long enough to allow so much ice to form in the fast flowing Afon Glaslyn.
So despite still recovering from the effects of a long and very enjoyable New Year's Eve party in Beddgelert, it was well worth spending the time to capture these images on January 1st. Albeit not during an early walk through the Pass!
Above: two final close up views of a cold Afon Glaslyn as it flowed though Aberglaslyn Pass on January 1st 2009.
Walking the Pass
If you are ever in Snowdonia enjoying the rugged mountains, but need a gentle rest day walk, then head to the pretty village of Beddgelert and wander South through the Aberglaslyn Pass.
Or for a nice half day walk leave the village by a steep path that climbs to the top of Mynydd Sygyn, just under 1,000 feet up. Find the fairly indistinct trail that heads NE to Bwlch-y-Sygyn, where a more distinct trail can be followed. Firstly heading East, then curving round to the South, or just West of South right down to Nantmor, the Southern end of Aberglaslyn Pass.
That route leads to the path along the east side of the Pass. Which, after going through the Pass heads back to Beddgelert.
See this SP Trip Report for a more detailed photo description of this half day walk: follow the link and then scroll down to the 4th April walk.