The Glaslyn river flows from the hillsides of Snowdon through the lakes of Llyn Dinas and Llyn Gwynant, through the centre of the village of Beddgelert before cutting its way through an impressive gorge known as Aberglaslyn Pass and eventually on to the sea at Tremadog Bay.
It’s the gorge at Aberglaslyn Pass which offers the most spectacular experience of the river, with a brilliant, family-friendly walk through the gorge, alongside the river.
Every time we’ve visited Snowdonia we’ve done the Aberglaslyn Pass walk, usually as a bit of an easier day out after we’ve done more severe mountain climbs beforehand – because it’s a relatively flat and short walk which is a bit easier on the legs.
There’s a small car park about 5-minutes’ drive from the centre of Beddgelert – in the direction of the Royal Goat Hotel. You’ll see the river running along the roadside and you’ll cross over it via a bridge before arriving at the car park on your left. There’s a link to the exact location on Google Maps at the bottom of this post.
From the car park, go through the small wooden gate, where you have two choices – one is to head up the hillside to the right, the other is to the left, through the woods and down some steps in the direction of Aberglaslyn Pass.
From here you can follow the footpath alongside the river through the gorge. It’s a pretty spectacular sight as the river roars over huge boulders creating white water rapids in some places, with gentle, calm and deep pools in others.
At several spots there are clear places where you can jump from the rocks at the edge of the gorge in to the river – and other points with stony beaches where you can sit for lunch, paddle or swim in the river or spend ages throwing and skimming stones across flat water.
The path itself varies from flat, wide gravel track in some places, to narrow, rocky bits that see you climbing with hands and feet just inches from the edge of the ravine.
We’ve been through here many times with our children at all ages, right from being babies in a carrier on our back. Although some parts of this path can get a bit dodgy and close to the edge of the drop in to the gorge, we still consider it safe to take the children along. You might just find there are a few spots where you’ll want to be holding the younger ones’ hands and keeping a close eye on any others.
In recent years, a wooden boardwalk has been built along some of the previously more treacherous parts – and there are also metal handles embedded in some of the rock-faces to grab hold of. It all adds to the fun for the kids, making it a bit more of an interesting walk, but still safe as long as you’re sensible and careful on the dodgy bits!
About half way along this path, there’s a tunnel in the hillside, which looks like a big cave – the “dragon’s cave” as our children have always called it! Every time we come here, we venture in to the cave and see how far we can get, which is usually not very! It’s dark and scary and we’ve never dared venture too far in. It must be an old mining tunnel as it goes on for ages – keep an eye out for it on your right-hand side close to the wooden boardwalk.
The Aberglaslyn Pass walk takes you through some amazingly beautiful Snowndonia scenery. It’s only about 45-minutes to an hour in total from one end to the other, but we’ve often spent a whole afternoon stopping off, playing by the river, swimming, having a picnic at the riverside and generally enjoying the incredible beauty of the gorge.
Eventually the path flattens out in to a man-made gravel track, which crosses the Welsh Highland Steam Railway line and takes you through the fields, past ‘Gelert’s Grave’ and ultimately in to the centre of Beddgelert.
It’s not a circular walk, so you’re then left with the problem of, if you left your car in the car park, how you’re going to get back to it! You can of course walk back along the path. We normally let the children have a rest, an ice cream and a sit by the river while I run or ride my bike back along the main road to fetch the car (which is only about 15-minutes or so).
The Aberglaslyn Pass walk is a perfect one for the whole family and well worth doing whether you’re passing near or through Beddgelert for the day, or if you’re staying in the area for longer.
Details you’ll need
Google Maps link to the car park at the start of the walk: https://goo.gl/maps/8DLSa83PxYE2