As It Happens

Welsh town hopes to steal world's steepest street record from New Zealand

"We are pretty certain that the data we have will knock this street in this country called New Zealand off its little perch," says resident Gwyn Headley.

Resident behind the challenge vows to knock 'New Zealand off its little perch'

A woman races up Baldwin Street in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images)
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Gwyn Headley pulls no punches when he talks about his bid to steal the Guinness record for world's steepest street from a town in New Zealand. 

Headley has launched an official challenge for the title on behalf of his coastal Welsh town of Harlech, where he claims the street of Ffordd Pen Llech is at least one degree steeper than Baldwin Street in Dunedin, N.Z.

"Putting aside patriotism and native pride in my lovely little town, I can't see how it can't be the steepest street in the world," Headley told As It Happens host Carol Off. 

"We are pretty certain that the data we have will knock this street in this country called New Zealand off its little perch."

But Dunedin is not likely to go down without a fight.

With a 1:3 gradient, Baldwin Street is a major tourist attraction for the city, attracting athletes, daredevils and travellers in search of the perfect Instagram shot.

"If Wales turns out to have a steeper one, we will just have to arrange one of our periodic earthquakes and tilt Baldwin a bit more," Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull told the Guardian newspaper.

The Welsh town of Harlech is challenging Dunedin, N.Z., for the Guinness record of world's steepest street, claiming Ffordd Pen Llech, left, is at least one degree steeper than Baldwin Street, right. (Submitted by Gwyn Headley, Paul Ellis/Getty Images)

Headley, meanwhile, is relying on his own hard work — and the help of enthusiastic locals — to stake his claim.

He and other Harlech residents have been climbing the street and painstakingly measuring it using a global navigation satellite system.

Once the data is collected, they'll send it to Guinness, which will issue a ruling in about three months.

"If you put down a brick on Baldwin Street, it stays there," said Headly, who was once featured in a book called Dull Men of Great Britain, due to his obessesion with what he calls "eccentric architechure." 

"If you put down a brick on Ffordd Pen Llech  ... the brick will roll down the street."

From left to right, Harlech residents Myrddyn Phillips, Gwyn Headley and Sarah Badham measure the steepness of Ffordd Pen Llech. (Submitted by Gwyn Headley)

What's more, Headley iniststs Ffordd Pen Llech is simply a better street in a better town.

"They don't have a castle on their street," he said. "We've got a castle, we've got a song, we've got a lord — we even have a televison station named after our town."

If anything, Headley says he feels bad for Dunedin.

"I feel sorry because I can't think that they have anything else to boast about, and they're going to have to take their street signs down, aren't they?"

Written by Sheena Goodyear. Interview with Gwyn Headley produced by Kevin Ball

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