Sticky end as revellers emerge from the swamp

THE MUD BATH also known as the Glastonbury Festival drew to a close last night with thousands facing a tortuous escape back to civilisation.

Two days of heavy rain was set to cause severe delays as festival-goers tried to move their modes of transport home from fields thick with mud.

The torrential downpours also disrupted Saturday's Wimbledon and the tribute concert to Diana, Princess of Wales at Althorp Park with Sir Cliff Richard and Chris de Burgh.

But it was more than 100,000 music fans in the fields of the village of Pilton, Somerset, who suffered the worst effects of the unseasonal weather.

Some left early, while others shivered on as 100 contractors began work on a pounds 250,000 operation to dry out the site and make the exit roads usable for the end-of-festival exodus.

Yet even with nearly 700 reported crimes and drug seizures, Michael Eavis, the organiser, acclaimed the event the best yet."Wherever I go, and I've been out in the mud myself, the spirit and calibre of the people that come here means they rise above it for some strange reason," he said.

Even Radio 4's The Archers joined in. Millions last night heard the programme's rebel teenager Kate Aldridge give birth in a Glastonbury teepee in scenes recorded live at the site during the day. Two real-life labours were among nearly 1,500 cases at the two on-site medical units, run by the charity Festival Medical Services.

Ankle injuries from falls in the mud were a more common problem alongside a return of feet problems caused by the wet.

A 20-year-old woman was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, after suffering a severe epileptic fit.

Sunshine did break out yesterday, but it was far too late to stop the swamp-like conditions.

Similarities to a Flanders battlefield were evident. "Why are we here? I don't know. I love it and hate it at the same time," said Dave from London, suitably attired in combat boots and jacket. "It does your head in. All this marching about in mud and all this noise - we might as well be in the bloody army."

The consensus was that the mud was actually not as bad as last year. It was ankle deep in most places, as opposed to knee deep. But the rain was a lot worse.

Still, the rainbows were spectacular and people danced and smiled, despite all. Some even played football in front of the main Pyramid Stage. They got mud-smothered.

Torrential rain on Friday night did most of the damage and created the worst crisis that anyone could remember. Hundreds returned from celebrating England's football triumph to discover their tents washed out.

The Women's Royal Voluntary Service mounted an emergency operation, commandeering one of the huge performance marquees as a haven with heaters and a supply of dry clothes from local charity shops and 2,000 space blankets.

"It was the biggest single emergency I've ever seen," said Mary Tracey, organiser of 163 welfare volunteers and a veteran of 15 festivals.

Stacey, 17, did not even have a tent anymore. The friend she came with had had enough, taken it and gone.

"I stayed because I'd paid pounds 80 for a ticket and thought I'm going to enjoy myself anyway," the Hertford teenager said. "Now I feel like booking into the nearest B&B and calling my parents to come and get me.

`'I just want to cuddle my mum."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral