Dose of sunshine after weekend rain

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The final day of the Bank Holiday break is expected to offer some respite from the downpours that marred the weekend, with sunny spells brightening up the majority of the country.

Heavy showers swept across the UK over the past two days turning Reading and Leeds festivals into mud baths and scuppering the plans of those hoping to spend the long weekend on the beach.

But forecasters say the rain should stay away from most parts today, making way for interspersed periods of sun and cloud.

Weather expert Billy Payne, from MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: "Today will be an improvement on the last few days and for most parts it is going to be a bright start.

"Cloud will develop later in the day and there could be a few showers across Northern and Eastern parts.

"Southern England and South Wales will see the best of the sunshine with highs of around 18C."

Yesterday heavy rain showers fell across the majority of the UK, with the South, the Midlands, and Wales experiencing the worst downpours. It followed similar weather conditions on Saturday.

Campers at Reading Festival were forced to don plastic ponchos and wellies, while organisers laid hay on the ground in an attempt to prevent the site becoming a swamp.

The Highways Agency reported large volumes of traffic on the roads over the Bank Holiday, with an estimated 16 million vehicles taking to the roads on Friday alone.

Warnings were today issued for motorists returning from their getaways, after research revealed that the days immediately after the August Bank Holiday weekend are the worst for road accidents over the entire summer period.

A study by car insurance providers AXA found crashes peak on the Wednesday after the annual three-day break as tens of thousands Britons rush back to work and school.

Last year there was a 46% increase in the number of accidents in the three days following the Bank Holiday compared with 2009, AXA said.

The study also found that two in 10 motorists have had an accident coming back from their holiday, citing unfamiliar roads and heavy traffic as contributing factors. Amanda Edwards from AXA said motorists needed to plan ahead.

"We are aware that the week following the bank holiday will be extremely busy as per usual, which increases the likelihood of accidents occurring," she said.

"But people need to be better prepared, take precautions when driving and ensure they drive safely.

"By planning before you leave, it can make all the difference and help to avoid any potential accidents that can ruin a good holiday."

Warnings were also issued by coastguards after a number of revellers who braved the beach were cut off by tides over the weekend.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency said it dealt with at least eight different incidents yesterday involving 16 people who became cut off by incoming tides at different places around the coast.

They included a woman who was rescued after becoming stuck thigh deep in mud at St Dogmaels in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

Those travelling on domestic rail services were forced to put up with disruption over the weekend due to planned engineering works, while travel organisation Abta said around 1.8 million Britons headed abroad.

Source: PA