The Aberglaslyn Pass is, without doubt, one of the most picturesque river walks in North Wales. While you can obviously walk back on yourself to return to your starting point, we always, if we can, opt for a circular walk. For us, circular walks maximise the variety of scenery and experiences on offer, meaning that the kids, particularly, are more likely to stay happy and engaged with the walk. As such, we parked up in the National Trust car park in Nantmorand set off for a family day of adventure on this Aberglaslyn circular walk.
Now, it’s worth pointing out at the outset that this first section of the Aberglaslyn circular walk is a bit of a slog uphill through the forest. Our kids are amazing little walkers for their age; they not only got to the high point at Bryn Du without needing a carry (despite us asking our youngest, in particular, whether she wanted a rest in the carrier about a hundred times!), but our youngest walked all the way to Beddgelert before she clambered into the carrier, and our eldest walked the entire route without help. That said, this first section isn’t easy for young children. There’s nothing at all technical, dangerous or exposed; it’s just an unrelenting series of steep steps up to Bryn Du. Consequently, use your own judgement about how well your little ones will cope with strenuousness of this section. After all, you can always walk along the Aberglaslyn in both directions.
The woodland section itself, the steps apart, offers some lovely variety to the Aberglaslyn circular walk. There’s lots for the kids (and you) to explore in terms of fauna and flora and plenty of places to forage or identify bugs. As a result, consider taking a localised sheet or small, pocket-sized book on insects etc. This will also prompt the kids to stop regularly and further support their little limbs with lots and lots of rest stops.
Once you top out and escape the woodland, the beauty of this area opens out before your eyes. Suddenly, the climb up seems worth it. We stopped here for a well-earned picnic before going on to explore the tower. Despite it being a grey day on our last visit, there were still awesome views to admire all around you.
The next section of the walk from Bryn Du to Beddgelert is all downhill. Not in the visual or enjoyment sense, of course. Far from it. However, given your early climb, your legs and lungs will be thankful of this gradual descent. The scenery changes here, too. Left behind are ancient trees and, in their place, come sweeping views of open countryside, back-dropped by majestic mountains.
A lovely point of interest on reaching Beddgelert is visiting Gelert’s grave. For those that don’t know, Gelert was the 13th Century dog of Prince Llewelyn the Great, who had a palace in Beddgelert. Llewelyn had left the dog behind to go hunting one day and, on his return, found his infant son and heir’s cot empty and blood covering the floor and bed clothes. Thinking that his dog, Gelert, had attacked his baby, the Prince drew his sword and slew him. As the dying dog yelped, his cries were answered by the cries of a baby and, soon enough, Prince Llewelyn discovered his baby boy nearby, unharmed. However, near the baby was the body of a mighty wolf, whomGelert had killed to protect the child. The Prince was so full of remorse that he is said never to have smiled again, and buried Gelert at this spot naming it Beddgelert, or Gelert’s grave.
As well as the grave and statue to Gelert that you can visit in Beddgelert, the little town itself is wonderfully picturesque and our kids can certainly recommend both the café and ice cream shop that are just a very short stroll from the river.
The final leg of this Aberglaslyn circular walk is along the river itself. This path will carry you all the way back to your starting point at Nantmor and is relatively flat for large sections. The initial section, while lovely, does not prepare you for the utter beauty to be found further downstream. However, reaching that beauty does get a little more difficult as the trail turns from a pavement-like path to a rocky and, in places, narrow riverside passage. Make sure you have your kids on the inside and, in the very narrow spots, have hold of them as the river is powerful and fast flowing.
As I mentioned, this final section of the Aberglaslyn circular walk is, without doubt, one of the most picturesque low-level walks in the entire area. If you’re visiting the pass for the first time it’s a proper ‘wow!’ moment, believe me. Enjoy it but just take care.
The riverside path will now lead you all of the way back to your initial starting point in Nantmor. By the time you reach your car, you’ll have walked through ancient forest, climbed up into the hills for some splendid mountain views, got a taste of some Welsh history, and walked along one of the best river paths I know. This is a cracker of a short walk.
Starting grid reference: SH 5973 4623
Cafes/ice cream shops – in Beddgelert (our downloadable route below takes you straight to it!)
Distance: 3.95 miles/ 6.36km
Download the route for free here