2010 begins with big chill

Some took to the slopes to celebrate the new year, others took to the water
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The Independent Online

Snow ushered in the new year and new decade in many parts of the country, and the fortitude shown by the revellers who braved freezing streets was sustained through a cold – but often bright – New Year's Day.

In London, more than 200,000 people gathered along the banks of the Thames on New Year's Eve to hear Big Ben strike midnight, while in Glasgow thousands joined Hogmanay celebrations. Fireworks erupted over the London Eye for more than seven minutes, and a light dusting of snow soon fell on a crowd that included large numbers of foreign tourists, and many young adults who were children at the turn of the millennium.

More than 3,000 police officers were on duty in central London, making more than 78 arrests. Two men were shot early yesterday after a New Year's Eve party in south London. One was killed and the other critically injured.

In Cambridge city centre, a Territorial Army medical tent set up to treat drunken revellers helped dozens of young women who showed symptoms of hypothermia after standing waiting for taxis in freezing conditions, often wearing only light party clothing.

In the Scottish capital up to 80,000 people welcomed in the new year at a huge street party, with the temperature on Edinburgh's Princes Street falling to a biting minus 6C by midnight.

Heavy snow forced organisers to cancel the New Year celebrations in Inverness, where a large crowd had been expected for the city's Red Hot Highland Fling event, but hundreds of skiers were able to take to the ski slopes in the Cairngorms on the first day of 2010. The Cairngorm Mountain ski resort near Aviemore said it has had more than 8,000 skiers and snowboarders using its runs since Christmas Day, and that right now it has "best snow in Europe".

In Somerset, 78-year-old Joyce Peters said she felt "euphoric" after joining 17 others for an annual New Year swim, in an estimated temperature of 3C, at Marine Lake in Clevedon.

The Met Office is forecasting continued low temperatures this weekend, with more snow showers, mainly over Scotland, eastern England, Devon and Cornwall. Ice will be a problem on many roads, with northern areas struggling to get above freezing as people head back after the long Christmas break.