Saturday, 25 March 2017

New Website Launch

We're proud to announce that our new website is officially live!

We've kept all the best bits of the old website, and thanks to the help of our customers we've added some brand new features that will make shopping with us better than ever before.

We love to hear feedback (both good and bad). So check it out and let us know what you think!

A refreshed look for the homepage.

Discover our newest products and special offers.

Our new filter makes browsing so much easier.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

My Journey to 5 Stars | Lyndon Williams

Recently I passed my 5 star white water kayak assessment, the assessment is carried out over 2 days and is based on guiding kayaking in advanced waters. I couldn't have asked for a better weekend. The first day was great, we made the couple hour's drive from Cardiff to paddle the Lynn early in the morning and as I hadn't done it before, excitement took over and I seemed to forget about the pre-assessment nerves. I really had a feeling like I was just out boating for fun. This carried on to the second day where I was fortunate enough to get 2 great candidates to guide down the upper Dart. It was super relaxed, enjoyable and we all had an awesome day.

After the assessment everyone had an individual debrief, it got to my turn and In simple and short words the feedback I received was outstanding. I felt really confident within my personal paddling and leadership on the water. And the guys from Gene 17 had confirmed that. It was pretty hard not to walk out with a smile on my face, I was completely proud of myself.

After a short celebratory car park beer with the others who passed It was time to head home. The 3 hour drive back to south Wales left me with plenty of time to reflect on my journey to becoming a 5* white water leader and the person I am today!

6 years ago, nearly to the day I started kayaking, It was something fun, new to learn and actually quite difficult. I really appreciate my friend Becx for getting me on the water because I was hooked. Having a love for the sport instantly gave me inspiration to get better and teach what I've learnt to others.
Very early on I applied for a job in the Ardeche and when I had a phone call confirming my place I couldn't stop jumping around the house! I surrounded myself with paddlers. I coached, guided and learnt a lot about paddling. I made it my job, my life and hobby. Everything thing else in my life at that time was on hold, I found something I loved to do and I was spending it with the best of friends who felt the same.

After a couple of years I moved to a different company called Adventure Ardeche. The choice to move companies as far as I'm concerned turned out to be one of the most crucial decisions I have ever made. Phil the owner really cares about his staff and does what he can to help put people on the path they want to follow. It was my time with Phil and his family that gave me the tools to progress. I was given vehicles to go kayaking on days off, he paid for trips to the French alps, qualifications were there if I wanted them and most importantly I was able to gain heaps of experience.
I really have a soft spot for the Ardeche, It's a beautiful place with beautiful people. Most of my closest friends have come from being out there and I probably wouldn't have met my girlfriend, Beckii if it wasn't for working there. Although I decided enough was enough and I really wanted to travel and paddle in different places around the world.

Beckii and I left France, we headed to the UK, then off to Canada, back to Wales to save up then travelled and kayaked in New Zealand for a year. During this time I started to dial in my boat skills and run some of the biggest rapids I've ever seen. It was great to have a range of rivers from huge volume with big waves to tight twisting, steep and technical creeks. But towards the end of the trip I slightly lost sight of my own goal, I had sold my boat and kit knowing I was heading home and was really frustrated that I wasn't kayaking. I must have been really awful to be around at times.
At the time I was so focused on getting better, fitter and wanting to run bigger rapids, I almost forgot why I fell in love with the sport. It wasn't all about just having fun with those who matter the most. I wanted to see what I was capable of. Sometimes I would go out on the lake to do sprint fitness sessions because I felt like I had to Even though I had nothing to train for. Its really difficult to explain how I felt then because I didn't really understand myself.

The time between not having a kayak in New Zealand to collecting everything new back home felt like a decade. I remember how excited I was to get back in a boat and I made everyone around me aware of that! I quite possibly posted on social media every time I looked at a kayak and definitely every time I got in one. I felt so fortunate that I picked up a sponsorship with Escape Watersports while I was in New Zealand. It allowed me to go 4 months without having to find a job as the less I spent on replacing my kit meant the more I could put my funds elsewhere. A few months in a UK winter to just paddle with friends, have fun and really enjoy my kayaking again.

A trip to Scotland for a week just after new year was just what I needed to confirm what I already knew. Kayaking is made so much better with friends around to have fun with. I still have the same drive to do the best I can and test myself but its great days on the water with great friends that leave me smiling more.

Not long after this, a group of us decided to run a night descent on a South Wales classic run. By day, possibly the best river in the south and by night It didn't disappoint. Between everyone involved there was so much experience, it was an honour to be part of the team. Although we joked around a lot we had safety set on absolutely everything! I really enjoyed the run, not so much for it being dark, although It's something I will never forget; but once again I was out on the river having a great time with friends.

So when my assessment arrived, I was more looking forward to being on the river with my friends and sharing my experiences that I felt there was no pressure. Unaware, I was completely ready for it and It leaves me humbled. 

I can only thank everyone who has helped me achieve that. The support I have received from coaches, friends, family, bosses, companies, people I have met on rivers and asked for the line, people who have inspired me to still be motivated at 5am and most importantly Beckii. At some point everyone I have met over the last 6 Years has helped me achieve my goal in some way or another and I'm truly grateful. Finding people who I can share my love for kayaking with will continue to be high on my priorities. But now I see myself at the end of a chapter and I can't wait to carry on writing the next one!

Photography: Adam Heason, Beckii Waters.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Staff Training 2017

Every January, the Escape team comes together to have a look back on the previous year, discuss what went right and what went wrong, and then start to plan for the year ahead.

Despite Brexit, Trump, and countless celebrity deaths, 2016 was a great year for Escape Watersports, and we've thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

So we had our meeting and got all the boring stuff out the way, then headed to Cardiff for a few hours on the CIWW Flowrider, followed by a curry and beers.

Work hard, play hard!

A huge thank you and shout out to our instructor Calum who was ace.
Here are some of our favourite snaps from the session.

Friday, 6 January 2017

HB Canoes & Kayaks is Closed

Herefordshire and Borders Canoes and Kayaks is now CLOSED

HB Canoes & Kayaks has ceased trading, and is now part of Escape Watersports

HB Canoes & Kayaks has been an established Canoe and Kayak store, located in Orcop, for over 12 years. 
In 2016 HB Canoes & Kayaks was purchased by Escape Watersports, using the Orcop site as a second showroom location for customers to visit.

The HB Canoes & Kayaks showroom at Orcop is now permanently closed

We will be closing down all HB Canoes & Kayaks social media accounts and the main website as of the 1st February 2017. 
All in store and online business will be conducted from Escape Watersports in Bridgend, South Wales. 

If you haven't already, make sure you follow Escape Watersports to ensure that you get the latest news and access exclusive to online sales.

For all your paddlesports needs, head over to Escape Watersports online or come and visit our Bridgend showroom.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.


Telephone: (01656) 745774

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Top 5 Places to Paddle in the UK

Have you got your paddling trip book yet? Are you in need of some inspiration? Well, here at Escape Watersports we have our top 5 places to paddle to give you some food for thought.

1) Wales, Gower - Oxwich Bay

Photo credit: Driftwood

If kayak fishing is your thing then it is worth visiting Oxwich Bay in the Gower. Home to the Oxwich European Kayak Fishing Championships, Oxwich, the largest south Gower beach is a superb venue to explore. The shallow sloping beach and big tidal range can make the walk/portage a fair distance, but with the aid of your C-Tug Canoe and Kayak Trolley it is easily defeated. If the beach is busy, the trying the wooded Oxwich head to the west of the bay is worth a look. 

You will find ample mackerel within the season. There will also be Huss nibbling at static rod lines. About two thirds it length and some 200 yards offshore are the remains of a wreck worthy of fishing. The best time to fish is on neap tides, where the water flow is not as strong as on a spring. 

For information on British Sea Fishing, click here

2) Scotland - River Spey

Photo Credit:

The River Spey is a Grade II/III river than can usually be relied on to give reasonable water levels in all seasons. There is nothing highly technical, however, on sections downstream of Grantown-on-Spey there is a good number of entertaining Grade II rapids. With the majority of the length of the river being navigable, this is a superb river for canoe expeditions.

Scotland's Land Reform Act allows for any responsible pedestrian; cycle; horse and non-motorised boat access to the river. There is a public right of navigation on the River Spey. 'Navigation' extends to movement over the water, up, down and across stream. It is also worth knowing that you are sharing the river with other users such as fishermen who are either bank based or fly fishing from the water. 

On your journey down stream, you may happen to pass the Speyside Distillery for a sample of their single malt.  

For more information on access, river information, accommodation and contacts for the River Spey, click here.

3) North Wales - Llyn Peninsula

Photo Credit:  

Wales's Llyn Peninsula is a popular destination for Sea Kayakers. It is perfect from beginner to advanced paddlers, offering a wide variety of experiences for all. 

Pwllheli to Abersoch is a great leg for beginners. With plenty of options available for you to beach and stretch your legs or even a well placed cafe for a tea and Welsh cake. If you're after something a bit more gripping then it is worth checking out the Gwylan Islands and whistling sands of Aberdaron. There are some interesting arches and caves so explore on your paddle round too. During the spring and summer months you will see a wide range of birds including puffins, choughs, peregrines and you may also encounter seals and dolphins. 

It is worth checking the access prior to your trip at the islands as some (like St Tudwals island) are privately owned, so landing is not possible. There are also nature reserves along the coast that need to be considered too. 

There is an abundance of histroy, as Bardsey Island especially is said to be the burial place of thousands of saints and was once considered an important religious pilgrimage. 

For more information on Sea Kayaking the Llyn Peninsula, click here

4) Devon - Upper River Dart

Photo Credit:
There is a wide variety of White-Water on our doorstep, but the River Dart proves to be a popular descent for most. Acclaimed by some as one of the best grade 4 runs in the country, the Upper Dart is cetainly not to be missed. The river tends to be at its best around November to March. If you've got the skills, right conditions and equipment, then get the boat on the roof! 

Starting just below Dartmeet, you will journey down to Newbridge, or continue down to Holne Bridge. Just ensure that you are parking consideratly (weekdays only) as the access situation is sensitive here). 

If your building up to the Upper, then take a look at the middle and the Loop sections of the Dart. There are alot friendler for the beginner to intermediate paddler. For more information on the river Dart, click here.  

5) North Ireland - West Coast

Photo Credit:

Northern Ireland and Eire has many great surf spots to offer, for both board and kayak. The best time to surf Ireland is from September to May, when the Atlantic Ocean provides plenty of powerful cold water swells. The only downside with surfing in Ireland is the temperature during these months. If, you are well prepared with a winter wetsuit, thermal rash guard, booties, wetsuit gloves and hood, then we recommend you make a visit.
Spots to consider are Dongegal Bay on the North-West Coast. It is described as a swell magnet, with surf spots everywhere. There is a wave for everyone, making it a great place to learn to surf. If you're into bigger water, there are spots that hold 20ft+. Make sure you don't leave without checking out Lahinch, Easkey and Portrush (as well as the Guiness). 

For more information regarding Ireland's surf, click here.