1. ITV Report

Welsh town takes title for world’s steepest street from New Zealand

Residents Glyn Headley and Sarah Badhan celebrate Ffordd Pen Llech (top right) named the world’s steepest street, taking the title from Baldwin Street in New Zealand (bottom right). Credit: Guinness World Records/ITV Cymru Wales/AP

As if losing the Cricket World Cup final is not enough, New Zealand has now lost the title of the world's steepest street to another country in Britain.

That's after a campaign by locals made a street in Wales the new champion of uphill roads, according to Guinness World Records.

Ffordd Pen Llech, in the seaside town of Harlech, North Wales, has been officially recorded of being at a gradient of 37 per cent – two per cent steeper than the previous record holder Baldwin Street in New Zealand.

On Tuesday the Guinness World Records announced the Welsh street had wrested the title away from the street in Dunedin, a city on New Zealand’s South Island, which has a gradient of 35% and has attracted tourists from all around the world.

The world's steepest street is now in Wales. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

Local businesses have been trading on the title for the past two years since gaining the record, and the 350-metre-long street has found fame on social media.

But locals in Harlech, led by entrepreneur and architectural historian Gwyn Headley, claimed Fford Pen Llech was even steeper, leading to an inspection by an independent surveyor on June 6 who verified the gradient.

Mr Headley, who first wondered if the street was the steepest after his car slid down it while the handbrake was fully locked, said he felt “utter relief” and “jubilation” following the announcement.

He said: “I feel sorry for Baldwin Street and the New Zealanders, but steeper is steeper.

“At least they have the Rugby World Cup… for the moment…”

The view from Baldwin Street in New Zealand. Credit: AP

The street runs past the medieval Harlech Castle, a Unesco World Heritage site, and is lined with houses, a shop, a caravan park, a laundry service, and a restaurant.

Glyn Roberts, who owns the Castle Cottage Restaurant, said: “We didn’t realise it was the steepest street in the world, but it is very steep and it’s a good heart-starter walking up and down the hill.

“It’s a lovely part of the world and to have this extra accolade can do nothing but good for the town and bring more people in.”

The start of Ffordd Pen Llech. Credit: Guinness World Records

For a street to qualify for the title of the world’s steepest it must be a public thoroughfare, fully paved and contain buildings running alongside it.

The record measurement is based on the highest gradient over a 10m section of road.

Measuring the gradient in Ffordd Pen Llech. Credit: TV3

Craig Glenday, Guinness World Records editor in chief said: “The local community in Harlech has shown sheer willpower in their quest to earn Ffordd Pen Llech the title.

“We know the anticipation has been building for quite some time now and I’m pleased to see the outcome has brought such joy to the residents.

“I hope Harlech enjoys the celebrations and that the new title brings lots of people to the beautiful town, to experience the world’s steepest street for themselves.”

Runners have an uphill struggle on Baldwin Street. Credit: AP
  • How is the steepness measured?

The Guinness World Records says: "The record is measured based on the steepest (highest gradient) section over a 10 m distance.

"If the average steepness is taken, you could have a road where one section is extremely steep and the rest is flat, which is not a fair assessment.

"The gradient is measured by taking the 10 m stretch road and dividing it by how much it rises/falls over the 10 m distance."

A general view of Baldwin Street in New Zealand.