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Soggy start to bank holiday weekend

Britons have endured a soggy start to the bank holiday weekend as downpours drenched holidaymakers and festival-goers, while motorists faced delays after a series of motorway accidents.

Showers swept across much of the country, turning Reading and Leeds festivals into mud baths and scuppering the plans of those hoping to spend the long weekend on the beach.

Campers at Reading Festival complained of waterlogged tents and organisers laid hay on the ground in an attempt to prevent the site becoming a swamp. Revellers at both festivals donned plastic ponchos and wellies and refused to let the grey skies and rain clouds ruin the party.

Elsewhere, heavy rain fell in the Midlands, the South East, South West, London and central England. But MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, forecast a brighter evening with dry weather expected later.

Meanwhile, as tens of thousands embarked on long weekend getaways, many were hit by tailbacks on the M20, M5, M6, M42 and M40.

The Highways Agency predicted congestion after a man died in a collision between junctions two and three of the M20 in Kent and his two passengers suffered minor injuries.

A non-fatal, two-vehicle collision on the M42 resulted in minor injuries and 45-minute delays, the Highways Agency and Leicestershire Police said.

A collision on the M40 in Oxfordshire was expected to cause 50-minute delays, while a six-vehicle crash on the northbound M6 at junction 13 in the West Midlands caused 45-minute delays and left at least one person with minor injuries.

Channel Tunnel shuttle train company Eurotunnel said it planned to run a full service over the weekend even if a threatened strike by its French workers went ahead as planned.

Those travelling on domestic rail services however are having to put up with disruption over the weekend due to planned engineering works. But Network Rail said more trains would be running than over the 2010 August bank holiday.

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