During our recent visit to Leeds Castle, Kent, Southern Segway very kindly invited us to check out their Twilight Castle Tour (GBP 59 per person, including admission to the castle grounds). Ms B and I had done a Segway tour once before, in Paris, and thought we knew it all, but it turned out to be so much more fun going off-roading on those amazing vehicles.
For those of you who have never tried riding a Segway: be assured it’s very easy to learn. It will literally take you a few minutes to get the hang of it. The technology is mind-blowing. I’m roughly 100kg, but I felt perfectly comfortable going full speed on my set of wheels and never felt scared of falling off. The Segway will keep you from falling over forward or backwards by subtly counteracting your move so as to always keep the balance.
You’re being provided with a helmet nonetheless and you have to strictly follow the rules, which, among others, include never overtaking or leaving your position in the queue and keeping a safe distance to the other vehicles.
The tour starts at 6pm with a safety briefing, introduction, and a bit of training. After everyone has finished, you leave at about 6:30pm. The ride itself takes one hour. Our two instructors were very patient and friendly and also acted as tour guides, sharing quirky stories about the castle’s illustrious long line of owners, the flora and fauna.
You pass through beautiful gardens, untouched rough terrain, woodlands, over bridges and up and down steep hills. Most of the time the castle and the lake are in your view.
Different from what it might look like (and from what we had been expecting), the tour requires relatively little physical fitness or strength. It took a similar amount of energy to a pleasant late afternoon walk, not like some of the other recent outdoor activities we’ve been checking out, some of which were extremely strenuous and perhaps also a bit dangerous.
The Twilight Castle Tour is the flagship tour of Southern Segway. Other, shorter tours start from as little as £23, but (not having done any of the other tours) we’d highly recommend spending a bit extra for the Twilight Tour, it’s definitely worth it. The light on the day we did the tour was perhaps not perfect, but even without pink warm soft light we were very pleased with the views and ambience.
To get to Leeds Castle, there are a number of London train stations from which trains depart. We took the 1h 6mins train from London Victoria to Hollingbourne, and walked the 40mins from the station to the castle. Other connections might take slightly over two hours and involve taking a fast train to Ashford International, then a slow train and bus from there.
We will be back as paying customers as soon as our next visitors arrive.