Ever since seeing security guards gliding around effortlessly in Florida years ago, my son has always wanted to have a go on a Segway, so this year, in the absence of any toys on the birthday wish list, we decided to grant his wish and find him a Segway.
On a recent trip to Wildwood at Escot, I noticed Devon Country Pursuits: offering Segways, quad bikes, paint-balling, archery, clay pigeon shooting, laser tag, bushcraft and team building, they cater for parties, hen & stag dos, corporate groups and individuals, and as we saw a group come in, splattered with mud and beaming, I knew it looked fun!
We arrived at Escot in time for kitting up in basic safety gear and had a lesson in Segway basics.
For those who don’t know, a Segway is a two-wheeled personal transportation device – you stand on a small platform with a handle-bar in front, and sensors sense your point of balance and drive the wheels accordingly – to put it simply, if you lean forward, you go forwards, if you lean back, you go backwards. And that is the beauty of it – it really is that simple! There are no brakes, no accelerator: all speeding up, slowing and turning is done purely by body weight, so it’s strangely instinctive once you get used to the apparent lack of control. You sort of don’t know why it’s working, it just is!
The instructor gave us a lesson and made sure we could manage a small slalom and circular track, then he signed us off as trained, upped the speed limiters from 5mph to 12mph, and off we went.
Escot is set in beautiful rolling parkland, so the Segway Safari took us along nice straight tracks where you could build up a bit of speed, along grassy or woodland tracks, through muddy woods and over humps and bumps. The scenery was lovely, and it was a strange mixture of fun and serene, as it is such a smooth glide that it’s all quite graceful (although you do look pretty undignified – it feels more graceful than it looks!) The invisible, effortless steering and control makes it quite natural, and it was a great way to cover a lot of ground and explore.
Bigger groups can opt for Segway Olympics, which is games, races & challenges, and I can see with a large group that would be a really good laugh. You can also book it as part of a multi-activity package, with archery, quad bikes etc.
It is suitable for all ages – the only restrictions are you must be between 6 & 20 stone, as it works on body weight, and they carry on in all weather. I would definitely recommend it as an activity for families with older children, as there is a real gap in activities for kids who still want to be kids, but are too big for playgrounds, attractions etc. Obviously, childhood is a state of mind, so there is no upper age limit!
It is not cheap – we did it as a birthday present, but it was a great fun thing to do, and they do sell gift vouchers, so you could always ask for some for Christmas/birthday and do it as a treat.
Escot also has a cafe available for pre/post Segway refreshments, and if you really want to make a day of it, there is Wildwood at Escot too, with adventure play, otters, red squirrels, wolves etc.
All in all, we all came away with big smiles on our faces, so I think that’s a win as far as birthday presents go!