Glaslyn Access Arrangement
Since the legal situation of public access to inland water in England and Wales remains unclear, managed access arrangements are becoming increasingly common. Scotland in contrast, enjoys the cooperative use of a natural resource enshrined in law through its Land Reform Act 2003
. This ensures a public right of access bound by a code of statutory conduct that at the same time protects private rights.
The National Trust
(NT), as a major landowner along the upper Glaslyn from Llyn Gwynant to the bottom of the Aberglaslyn Gorge has recently drawn up a new access arrangement to this stretch of water, following discussions with the Glaslyn Fishing Association, the Countryside Council for Wales and the Environment Agency (EA). The Welsh Canoeing Association
don't believe "the agreement meets the needs of today's paddler."
National Trust Warden, Dave Smith, said: "Access is based on water level meters to prevent damage to breeding fish beds. The EA identified the safe level for canoeing on the river as 0.75m at the Beddgelert metering station. The water level meters were located close to the access points to make them easily referred to. We may have to fine tune the water level meters as our experience increases."
"The only area where full agreement could not be reached was in the Aberglaslyn gorge itself. The fishermen felt very strongly that the two activities were incompatible on this narrow and fast flowing stretch. In this area, the fishermen only fish during spates and their lines are generally laid out in the centre of the flow using very heavy tackle. Of course, canoeists only use this stretch during spates as well, so there is clearly a conflict."
The fishing association were adamant that shared access here would not work and the Welsh Canoeing Association (WCA) would not sign up to any agreement that included any restrictions to access.
Dave Smith said: "As an overall agreement could not be reached, in order to maximise access by all users, and to minimise conflict, the NT felt that an access arrangement would be followed which allowed access to the whole of the upper Glaslyn, but with a restriction on the gorge itself. This means that the gorge is closed to canoeists and kayakers between the 20th March and the 17th of October."
Ashley Charlwood from the WCA said: "The WCA are supportive of the National Trust trying to increase access on the Afon Glaslyn but we have expressed our concerns in respect of how the upper river is being promoted."
Commenting further on the WCA's standpoint: "We are disappointed that the National Trust has not managed to increase access to the gorge from where the WCA has held the same arrangement set up in the 80's. In fact, we were surprised to learn that the Trust had to give more fishing rights to the local club in order to allow the same shared access that Canoeists have been taking for many decades. This appears to be contrary to National Trust policy which states - 'Where fishing rights are in hand there should not be an automatic presumption in favour of fishing as opposed to canoeing'."
The National Assembly, through CCW, have paid the NT to produce signs and leaflets to promote the new arrangement, as well as improving access to the Bethania access point in Nant Gwynant. Ashley commented: "The NT information implies that canoe activity below a certain water level is 'access damaging' but that is not supported by evidence."
While plenty of canoeists and kayakers have been taking advantage of the agreement on the lakes and moving water of the Upper Glaslyn, access to the idyllic open canoe trip along the lower Glaslyn, from Pont Aberglaslyn to Porthmadog still remains contentious.
Water level information can also be accessed remotely by calling Rivercall on 0906 619 7755.
To download the National Trust information leaflet on this access arrangement click here
and look under the Access to Inland Water Category.Related news items: Access to Water Manifesto
, Assembly Washing Away Welsh Water Access
, Environment Agency River Access Report Controversy
top: Information panel on shore of Llyn Gwynant.
bottom: Water level gauges such as this can be found at several points along the upper Glaslyn.
Topic: Access to Water, Canoeing and Kayaking in Wales, Afon Glaslyn.
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