Bank Holiday traffic has returned to pre-pandemic levels today, with 18.4 million cars hitting the road amid cloudy skies and drizzle.
The AA said that congestion on Britain’s roads soared as holidaymakers tried to get away on Friday – with millions flocking back home today.
Forecasters said that areas in the south-west of England will enjoy a bright spell with temperatures hitting around 71F.
But a damp day is expected in north-east England and eastern Scotland which could see temperatures fall as low as 55F alongside drizzle and clouds.
Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said: ‘We often get hot bank holidays. We often get cold bank holidays. For this one, the weather is kind of benign. If anything, (the weather) is extreme in how unextreme it is.
‘The west of the UK will be sunny at times and warm, whereas coastal parts of the east could be quite drizzly and, to be honest, at times not the most pleasant weather.’
The beach is quiet with only a few holidaymakers braving the chilly wind at the seaside resort of Weymouth in Dorset on a cold overcast morning
Holidaymakers enjoying the views of Stair Hole at Lulworth Cove in Dorset, though temperatures were lower today
Holidaymakers braving the chilly wind at the seaside resort of Weymouth in Dorset on a cold overcast morning on Bank Holiday Monday
A damp day is expected in north-east England and eastern Scotland which could see temperatures fall as low as 55F alongside drizzle and clouds
The motoring association said that large festival events taking place over the weekend coupled with restrictions on overseas travel will create a ‘perfect storm’ of congestion on the roads.
The RAC estimated that a staggering 16.7million leisure trips will be made on UK roads across the three-day weekend, with Friday night seeing ‘bumper-to-bumper’ traffic on many of the country’s motorways – including the M1, M5, M6, M25 and M56 – as many left on their getaways.
Traffic continued to be slow in certain areas, such as Cornwall and Devon, on Saturday morning as many headed to the coast to make the most of the balmy August weather – despite warnings to stay away from the areas as Covid-19 continues to grip the regions.
But the traffic congestion is expected to continue into Monday, while roads in the south west of England, including the M5, are predicted to be worst affected.
RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis previously said: ‘It’s been an incredibly busy summer on the UK’s roads with vast numbers of people on the move both for staycation holidays and for day trips to the sea and countryside.
‘Our figures suggest this is a trend that will continue, with bumper-to-bumper bank holiday traffic expected, especially on the most popular holiday routes.
‘While this weekend will see many people returning from summer holidays in the UK, the fine and settled weather will also be seen as an opportunity by lots of people to jump in their cars for last-minute trips – after all, this is the last bank holiday weekend in England, Wales and Northern Ireland before Christmas.’
Inrix analyst Bob Pishue said: ‘Drivers hitting the road for one last getaway before the end of summer should expect long delays on key corridors.
At least seven people were seen to free-climb up the rocky beauty spot of Stair Hole at Lulworth Cove in Dorset today
London and the South East will fare a little better with temperatures around 64F expected, although clouds and spots of rain will also appear
A visitor on the knife edge cliff at Stair Hole, Lulworth Cove in Dorset on Bank Holiday Monday this morning
‘Knowing when and where congestion will build can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.
‘Our advice is to avoid travelling in the afternoon. Leave early in the day or be prepared for some travel times to double.’
It comes as the rail industry said ticket sales to seaside hotspots were already more than double the number sold over last year’s August bank holiday.
On some leisure routes passenger numbers are even expected to surge past pre-pandemic levels, with research by consultancy WPI Economics suggesting rail passengers alone will on average spend £116 each per trip.
The Met Office predicted that the late summer sunshine will continue throughout next week as conditions will remain dry with balmy temperatures in the low twenties, but there is a slight risk of the rain from the west as the weather could become more unsettled next weekend.
On Saturday, the Met Office recorded scorching temperatures of nearly 77F (25C) in Strathallan, Scotland, while areas of Derbyshire hit 75F (24C) and Northern Ireland enjoyed a pleasant 73F (23C).
Craig Snell, Met Office forecaster, said: ‘If you’re looking for the best day out of the weekend as a whole, then it was Saturday.
‘Overall, a lot of the UK had a good day today particularly in the west. And that trend seems set to continue.
‘Although it will gradually get cloudier from the east over the next two days, meaning it won’t be as warm, it’ll still be relatively dry in most places.’
Today’s chilly weather is in stark contrast to the rest of the Bank Holiday weekend, with Britons basking in 75F sun.
Although the hottest Bank Holiday day passed on Saturday, sunseekers enjoyed scorching temperatures of 75.2F (24C) throughout Sunday, as Plymouth reached a sizzling 75F (23.9C) early in the day, the Met Office confirmed.
Despite the slowly cooling temperatures, Britain was hotter than Greek island Crete and Paris, France, which have both seen highs of 66F (19C), and Zagreb, Croatia, which hit a mere 64F (18C).
Meanwhile, traffic is expected to pile up across England’s motorways on Monday, as hoards of Britons flocked to the seaside and popular beauty spots on Friday to make the most of the late summer sunshine.
Photographs showed sun-seekers out in their droves on Weymouth and Bournemouth beaches, as the golden sands became a dense sea of umbrellas and tents throughout Sunday.
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