Subglacial hydrology is a key element in glacier response to climate change, but investigations of this environment are logistically difficult. Most models are based on summer data from glaciers resting on rigid bedrocks. However a significant number of glaciers rest on soft (unconsolidated sedimentary) beds, including the potentially unstable ice streams of West Antarctica. Here we present a rare multi-year instrumented record of the development of seasonal subglacial behavior in a temperate glacier resting on a deformable sediment layer as an analogue for West Antarctica. We observe a distinct annual pattern in the subglacial hydrology based on self-organizing anastomosing braided channels. Water is stored within the subglacial system itself (till, braided system and ‘ponds’), allowing the rapid access of water to enable glacier speed-up events to occur throughout the year, particularly in winter.