UK basks in warmest day of the year

Londoners and tourists enjoy a fine spring day in St James's Park as Britain basks in the warmest day so far this year

People enjoy the spring sunshine as they make their way along the River Cam in Cambridge

People relax in the sun on a bench as they enjoy the weather in Hyde Park, central London

A general view of the beach in Brighton, East Sussex, as record temperatures greeted many Britons

First published in National News © by

Parts of Britain enjoyed their warmest weather of the year today as temperatures reached 20C (68F) for the first time in nearly six months.

Gravesend in Kent was the warmest spot in the country, recording a temperature of 20.5C (68.9F) at 2.30pm today, according to the Met Office. The last time the 20C mark was breached was on October 8 last year.

Most other parts of England have been experiencing warmth around 18C (64.4F) with East Anglia and the East Midlands enjoying the best of the sunshine, said the forecaster.

But Kirk Waite, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said the unseasonal warmth would not be staying after the weekend.

"Parts of the north and west of England and Wales are experiencing some cloudy drizzlier conditions. This band will be travelling down the country, so unfortunately it might just be one nice day followed by less pleasant days, particularly for those in the east of England who will struggle to see double figures on Monday," said Mr Waite.

"London will be reasonably warm tomorrow around 14C (57.2F)-15C (59F) with a cloudier feel during the day. But it will be a dry week with any rain coming towards the end of the week and restricted to the far north of the country."

Last year, the 20C mark was first passed on April 14, according to weather service provider MeteoGroup.

In anticipation of the balmy weekend, some British supermarkets were forced into getting early riped strawberries onto their shelves, while retailer John Lewis reported an 11% increase in online sales of barbecues this week, compared with the same period last year.

The sunnier temperatures are welcome relief after the Met Office declared that Britain had had the wettest winter on record.

Before today, the highest recorded temperature of 2014 was 16.9C (62.4F) in London on Friday.

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