Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand has long been thought to be the world’s steepest street. But now, Guinness World Records says that a 1,000-year-old street in Wales has taken the title.
For the last 30 years, if you wanted to walk on the world’s steepest street, you needed to be in Dunedin, New Zealand. That’s because in 1987, Baldwin Street was named the “World’s Steepest Street” by Guinness World Records.
Large numbers of tourists come to make their way up Baldwin Street’s steep pavement every year. Everything about the street looks steep. Some houses on the street almost look as if they were cut in half in order to sit on the street.
The street can be challenging to walk up and even more difficult to bike up.
Every year there are special events on Baldwin Street, such as a race up and down the hill known as the “Baldwin Street Gutbuster”.
In 2018, an 11-year-old raised over $7,500 ($11,000 NZ) to help others by going up the street on a pogo stick. Another money-raising event which has been held on the street since 2002 involves rolling 30,000 chocolate covered candies down the hill.
But starting last week, Baldwin Street became only the second steepest street in the world. The steepest is an old road called Ffordd Pen Llech in Harlech, Wales.
Harlech is a town in Wales that is home to Harlech Castle, which was built around 700 years ago. The castle is at the top of a hill. Ffordd Pen Llech, one of the roads leading up to the castle, is thought to be even older than the castle. The name “Ffordd Pen Llech” means “way to the top of the rock”.
Gwyn Headley is the person who asked Guinness to consider Ffordd Pen Llech. Mr. Headley said he first thought the street might be able to win the title for the steepest street, “when my car slid straight down with all four tires locked.”
To decide how steep a street is, Guinness doesn’t look at the whole road. Instead, they find the steepest 10 meters (11 yards) of the street. Then they divide how far the road goes up in that section (rise) by far it goes sideways (run). This is called the “slope” or “gradient” and is often given as a percentage.
It took a long time for the people of Harlech to convince Guinness that their road was steeper. But finally, Guinness agreed. Ffordd Pen Llech’s gradient measured 37.45%. Baldwin Street’s gradient was around 35%.
The people of Harlech are very excited about their new record. About 200 people turned out to celebrate the news last Saturday. The townspeople hope that the extra attention from having the world’s steepest street will bring more visitors to the town.
As for Dunedin, many people there are sorry to lose the title, but they are still proud of their steep street. They are considering how to describe Baldwin Street, now that it is no longer the steepest street in the world.
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