Experience country life in a whole new way

WIGANERS are now being offered a wheely great new way of discovering the delights of Haigh Country Park.

Visitors can now tour the site’s beautiful surroundings on Segways, which are two-wheeled electric vehicles used as a sedate and interesting way of travelling around towns and cities across the world.

Ride Segway owner and instructor Stuart Rowlands, left, with Wigan Evening Post reporter Natalie Walker

Ride Segway owner and instructor Stuart Rowlands, left, with Wigan Evening Post reporter Natalie Walker

Stuart Rowlands, owner of RideSegway, will train groups of four people on how to use the machines and take them on a guided tour around the park, with the whole experience taking 90 minutes.

He said: “I offer a guided tour of the park - it is safe as I give people a 15-minute training session.

“I don’t allow people to go off racing - everyone is happy to go around slowly and people can gather pace when they feel more confident.

“Haigh Hall is a great place to use a segway. It is very varied, with tarmac, an off-road track, stoned path and grass.

“Whether you are looking for an entertaining family activity to take part in or are a business wanting to organise a corporate day out, our sessions can be tailored to meet your requirements.”

A session costs £38 and visitors need to ring up and make a booking.

To launch the new attraction, members of the Wigan Leisure Trust’s (WLCT) parks team tried out the segways.

Louisa Bibby, parks activity officer, said: “I enjoyed trying it out.

“It was a bit nerve-racking at first, trusting the machine, but once we get on, it becomes second nature.

“This is completely different and it enables people who would not normally access the woodlands and grounds to view what we have to offer.

“We are hoping to incorporate history tours on the Segways, offering an alternative.” Coun Chris Ready, cabinet member for Leisure and Culture, said: “I was a bit apprehensive at first as I was not used to it, but after five minutes I gained control.

“It is great we get some training, as health and safety is important. I am sure it will be widely used as it is easy enough - if I can do it, anybody can do it.

“I think it is really inventive of the trust coming up with different ideas to get people into the park. It is always great to see a new activity introduced to one of Wigan’s premier tourist destinations, and I’m sure we’ll see many people riding Segways at the park during this glorious summer weather.”

Stuart Murray, chief executive of WLCT, said: “We are delighted to welcome RideSegway to Haigh Country Park. These machines provide an alternative way of getting around the site to see some of the 250 acres of beautiful parkland and woodland just waiting to be discovered.

“I’d encourage anyone planning a day out at Haigh Country Park to consider factoring in a trip on a Segway as part of the fun!”

Bookings must be taken in advance. To find out more and to check out prices, visit www.ridesegway.co.uk

For more about what’s on offer at Haigh Country Park and Haigh Hall visit www.wlct.org.uk

OUR REPORTER’S VIEW ...

I have no co-ordination or balance and so trying out a two-wheeler Segway seemed a daunting task.

After being laughed at in the office and told to capture footage of me falling off, I felt nervous that I would stumble off the back of it and certainly gain a few grazes.

But I was pleasantly surprised.

Stuart gave excellent training, telling me how to put one foot on first and then the other and to lean slightly forward to set it off.

I was then on my way, pushing my weight on my right or left handlebar to turn the corresponding way. I did feel free and enjoyed the ride along Haigh’s country path.

Although there is always the potential for people to fall off, I did feel safe. Not one of the merry group lost their balance and kept their cool, proving it was an easy task to try,

And of course, it would produce a few laughs on the way if someone did fall off the back of it, escaping only minor scrapes. And people will be given helmets, so safety is always paramount.