Local Affairs

Harlech street officially named steepest in the world

The previous record holder, Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand, has a gradient of 35%

Judith Strevens • 4th March 2019

THE STEEPEST STREET IN THE WORLD


In the ancient and beautiful North West Wales coastal town of Harlech, famed in legend and song, is a street named Ffordd Pen Llech*.  


Residents and visitors who drive down it or walk up it all comment on how steep it is. And so too does Guinness World Records, which today issued a certificate announcing that Ffordd Pen Llech now holds the record for the steepest street in the world:

“The steepest street (road) is Ffordd Pen Llech in Harlech, Wales, UK with a gradient of 1:2.67 (37.45% stretch over fall) as verified on 6 June 2019”


The previous record holder, Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand, has a gradient of 35%.


The exhausted residents of Harlech are jubilant. “What a long strange trip it’s been,’ mused Gwyn Headley whose [http://www.harlech.org/?p=1167/ blog] in August last year kicked off the bid application.


With the invaluable help and enthusiasm of Sarah Badham, who runs the Grwp Comuned Harlech web page and the Ffordd Pen Llech Facebook page, and the crucial advice of surveyor Myrddyn Philips, the residents of Harlech put an unassailable package together to win the bid.


“It was a lot tougher than we thought,” said Headley. “Guinness World Records were ultra-specific in the criteria they demanded for it to qualify as the steepest street in the world, and although we were confident in meeting or exceeding nine of them, we were worried about the tenth.”


Guinness World Records required a blueprint of the street. The Harlech bid justified its absence because the street has been there since time immemorial, at least a thousand years old, and blueprints only date from 1842.


It’s party time in Harlech. The old town has gathered its skirts together and is ready to celebrate with visitors and friends for — who knows? — the next thousand years?


*Ffordd Pen Llech is pronounced Ffordd Pen Llech. Easy. 4 letters, 3 letters, 3 letters. FF-O-R-DD P-E-N LL-E-CH. Don’t make the common mistake of confusing the Welsh alphabet with the English one. They are not at all the same. OK, in English it might sound something like FORTH PEN GHLECCHH.



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