Welsh Highland: Pass of Aberglaslyn

Visited July/Aug 2004. Map Ref SH597462 to SH594467.

  Tunnel No. 4 (T4) south portal (Portmadoc end).  I've used the WHR(C) reconstruction engineering names of the tunnels for simplicity. Ditto from fractionally wider angle, showing the rock buttresses.  Although the WHR was not built until approx 1920, the tunnels date from 1903, when the Portmadoc, Beddgelert and South Snowdon railway started work to link the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railway to Portmadoc.  The WHR in 1920 merely had to increase the tunnel heights.  The PB&SS was planned to be an early electric railway, but before it ran out of money in 1906 it had purchased the 2-6-2T "Russel" which, passed from bankrupt successor to successor, still works on the WHR(P) today.  Despite the limited slate in this area there had been many prior schemes for railways from Portmadoc to Beddgelert even before the PB&SS was started and abandoned.  Some schemes such as the standard gauge Beddgelert Railway actually started construction, and had any of them actually reached this far both banks of the Glaslyn would have resembled a Swiss cheese ! T4 north end, seen through the gates.  I believe that's a rock bolt and supporting plate on the roof where the light starts fading.  Despite it being gated both ends we watched someone emerge from the tunnel and slip round the barrier, but I had young lads with me and no helmets or torches, so we left it safely alone.  The concrete trough carried a water main, which has now (2007) been relocated in the road across the gorge so that tracklaying can start in the tunnels. T4 north portal (Beddgelert end) and the massive rock face it traverses.  So steep is the hill to the left that there is a 10' high stone retaining wall too. Tunnel No. 3 (T3) looking north to Beddgelert.  The base of the wartime gun mounting can be seen beyond it.  

  A closer view of the gun emplacement. Looking south through T2, with T3 beyond it.  Sorry about the drop of water from the roof on the lens, didn't notice it at the time :-( Closer view through T2 southwards to T3. Rock drill hole where a blasting charge had been inserted, 100 years before. Another blasting drill hole and the shattered slate walls it left.  

  View north through T2 to the end of the official trackbed footpath from Beddgelert.  At this period the tunnels were gated off, and the official Aberglaslyn walking route bypassed them down a very slippery and dangerous path over wet rocks in the bottom of the gorge.  But I knew the WHR(C) had already shotcreted the tunnel roofs with cement to stabilise them, so judged them safer than hauling my lads over the rocks down below. Looking south through T3 with the stone retaining wall beyond it which leads on to tunnel T4. Back down to the north portal of T4 again, in the sylvan context of the Aberglaslyn gorge. Yes well !  Give yer son a camera and he will take pictures !  

Relevant Links

Welsh Highland (Portmadoc) - Welsh Highland (Caernarvon) - Welsh Highland Rebuilding Project - Rebuilding: Phase 4 / Aberglaslyn

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