Coming from the north of Staffordshire, I have to admit I don’t visit Cannock Chase anywhere near as much as I should.

Determined to redress the balance, and take a unusual look at the UK’s smallest mainland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, I booked onto one of Go Ape’s Forest Segway tours.

Nervous about my visit

I arrived with some trepidation, thanks to my wife who, while I was planning my trip, delighted in frequently reminding me how, Jimi Heselden, the inventor of the Segway, met his demise.

Apparently, he was riding one of his creations along a bridleway beside a cliff, when it went haywire and sent him over the edge, plummeting to his death. My wife is convinced this was no accident, that it came to life and took him over on purpose.

So I was unsure how all this would go, as my ability to stay upright on anything that moves is limited, to say the least.

Check out what happened when I did the Learn to Ski in a Day course at the Snowdome for instance!

I was assured by friends that it was virtually impossible to fall off a Segway (despite what my wife says), and it would be a great way to see the Chase in all its lush, green splendour.

Here's a short 60 second clip about what happened:

The Practice Run

I met with my instructor and was briefed fully about the Segway and how fast it could go, how to change direction, and stop, as well as the rules of using it on the busy woodland tracks – important to know, given the forest is so popular with walkers, cyclists, horse riders and other visitors.

Then came the practice run, on Go Ape’s figure of eight course, which they’ve created to show you how to negotiate left-hand and right-hand turns, go up and down hills, and keep your balance on a surface that was anything but flat, thanks to the divots, rocks, tree roots and everything you would expect to be on the forest floor.

I didn’t quite get up to top speed on my practice – they keep the speed limiter on until you’ve got used to it – but I managed to stay on board and completed the training, so I was ready to venture away from the comfort blanket of the Go Ape visitor centre.

My Woodland Adventure

Off onto my woodland adventure I went, with my instructor for company to make sure I didn’t get lost (and to occasionally remind me of the safety guidelines). After a short while, I was allowed to take off the limiter and crank it up to the full speed of 10.5mph.

As my confidence grew, I relaxed and absorbed the wonder of my surroundings, which celebrated its 60th year as an AONB in 2018.

It was a glorious day and the Chase was busy with children building dens, families exploring the Gruffalo Trail, couples walking their canine companions and friends out tackling the challenging mountain bike trails, which will host the MTB events at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

And there I was, getting the same pleasure from the forest while the machine did all the work! As any thoughts of deadly malfunctions disappeared from my mind, I immersed myself in the blissful experience, and as we arrived back at base, I wondered why we don’t travel everywhere on these brilliantly quirky machines.

Perhaps one day, we will.

In the meantime though, I will be content with an hour reacquainting myself with the delights of the Birches Valley and gazing at my lovely certificate!

All you need to know

As long as you are at least 10 years old, and weigh more than seven stone/45kg (and less than 19.5 stone/125kg), you can try a Forest Segway tour.

Children aged 10-15 have to be supervised by an adult.

The tour costs £35 per person and lasts about an hour, taking in beautiful sights like the Fairoak Pools (weather permitting).

What else can you do at Go Ape Cannock Chase?

You'll find one of Staffordshire's toughest high ropes courses at Go Ape Cannock Chase too.

With almost 1500m of tree-to-tree crossings and daunting obstacles, it's a real challenge, but you do have the reward of some stunning treetop views, and a 260m zip-wire to get you through. Prices range from £25 to £33.

There's also the Tree Top Junior course for the little monkeys, covering 300m at the gentler height of 5m. Price: £18 per person.

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Go Ape is the UK's No.1 Forest Adventure. You can enjoy our Tree Top Adventure and Forest Segways at Cannock Chase.

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