Segway Whinlatter Forest: an electric adventure
This is futuristic technology meets tranquil forest environment – an odd combination, when you think about it. But it works. I loved my Segway experience with Go Ape at Whinlatter Forest. It was exciting and adventurous and totally different. It felt like the way James Bond would do it if he fancied a Cumbrian “hike” in the woods.
It was all pretty simple really. Our guide briefed us on how to use the machines. In a nutshell, it’s all about balance and your centre of gravity – lean forward, you go forward, lean backward, you slow down – you get the idea. Oh, and the electric Segways are “self-balancing”, which helps. Then we had a quick whizz around the coned-off practice circuit before the speed setting was increased (woohoo!) and we were off on the Segway safari.
We zoomed along the safe, wide forestry tracks at top speed. My immediate reaction was something like this…I’m going to buy one of these and permanently retire from my career as a “geeky hiker” (more on that here). I’ve walked around Whinlatter hundreds of times – but this was experiencing it all afresh from a different perspective. An epic, high-adrenaline, super-fun perspective. Why have I spent so many years plodding around on two feet?
Tall trees and glorious views of the surrounding fells blurred, as I put the pedal to the metal (there’s no pedal, bad example, but you get the idea). I looked back at all the people on the high ropes course and thought “what losers, so 2015, all the cool kids are Segwaying”. Then I realised I was: (i) wearing a cheapo bike helmet (not exactly the height of cool), (ii) 5th in the single-file line of Segwayers, aka the slowest; and (iii) at risk of wiping out anytime due to my dodgy technique.
The adventure lasted 60 minutes. I learnt to spin the Segway around 360 degrees, which was awesome fun, if not slightly dizzying. We explored a decent section of the forest and our guide gave us some interesting info on the local area during a couple of brief stops. I didn’t fall off once either! All in all it was a memorable, cool experience. At £35 I’d say it was a bit steep. I also found that the novelty wore off relatively quickly. I take it back – I’ll be sticking to my “geeky hiker” status for the forseeable future and won’t be trading in my walking boots for a two-wheeled electric contraption. But I’d still recommend the Segway experience to anyone up for a challenge. Go for it!