The Great Escape: Britons brave bad weather and travel disruption over Easter weekend

Cross-channel ferry strike has been called off, but roads are expected to be busy this evening and tomorrow morning

The great Easter getaway kicks off today, with millions of Britons hoping the record-breakingly bad weather doesn't scupper their plans.

Up to 17 million cars are expected to hit the roads over the weekend, and breakdown recovery company Green Flag estimates drivers will spend around £360 million on fuel this Easter- a 145% increase on a year earlier.

Around 1.7 million people have plans to flee abroad, with Egypt, Tunisia and the Canary Islands among the top sunny escapes.

Between today and Tuesday, 600,000 people will depart from Heathrow Airport, 214,000 from Gatwick, 110,000 from Manchester, 110,000 from Stansted and 55,000 from Luton. Scottish airports will see more than 100,000 departures.

Many have snapped up last-minute offers to get away from one of the coldest Marches on record.

Top city break destinations are Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam, Rome and New York.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of travel association ABTA, said: "After two wet summers and no end in sight to the winter, many Brits are desperate for some sunshine.

"We've seen a surge in last-minute bookings to warm destinations and ski lovers are also in for a treat with some of the best snow conditions seen for years."

Those staying in Britain can expect temperatures to pick up slightly over the holiday period but they will be still be way below the easter average.

Easter rail passengers will have to contend with engineering works, including major work at Reading and work on the West Coast main line in the West Midlands.

The Highways Agency has suspended roadworks for the Easter period on a number of England's motorways and major A roads.

But for safety reasons, works remain in place on some busy routes, including the M1 near Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire.

The AA reckons as many as 17 million cars will take to the roads over the holiday period, with the busiest periods expected to be this afternoon and Good Friday morning.

The link in Manchester from the M602 J1 westbound to the M60 J12 was closed due to an overturned lorry.

On the M25 anti-clockwise between J27 and J26 in Essex there were delays due to a broken-down vehicle.

On the railways today there were problems for passengers passing through Reading even before the engineering work was due to begin there.

There were delays of up to 40 minutes between Reading and Paddington in London.

A strike at French ports that would have severely disrupted cross-Channel ferry services was called off today. French port control officers had been due to go on a 24-hour stoppage that would have hit ports such as Calais, Dieppe and Cherbourg.

P&O Ferries had warned its passengers to expect long delays today and on Good Friday and there were fears of traffic build-ups on routes to the port of Dover in Kent.

But at 2am the strike was called off after successful late-night talks in France.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
A speech made by the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister urging women not to laugh in public in order to preserve morality has sparked a backlash on social media from women posting defiant selfies of themselves laughing at his remarks.
GALLERYWhy are Turkish women having a chuckle at the government's expense?
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

SEN KS1 Teacher

£21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Qualified and experi...

KS2 Teacher

£21588 - £31552 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Exceptional teacher ...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to be part ...

Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: We are currently recruitin...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star