Tens of thousands of sun-starved Britons descended upon the nation’s beaches and parks today as the country basked in temperatures of up to 89F making it the hottest day of the year.
As a wet and windy week came to an end, families packed out the country’s beaches to enjoy the clear skies and scorching sunshine.
The Met Office confirmed Sunday is officially the new hottest day of the year so far in both England and Wales, with both countries recording temperatures higher than 86F.
According to the Met Office, the mercury reached 88.9F at Heathrow and 30.2C 86.4F in Cardiff.
In Bournemouth, sun-seekers flocked to the beach this morning to enjoy the warm weather while others poured onto Branksome beach in Poole, Dorset, to take in the sea air.
Meanwhile in Weymouth, scores of visitors were seen flocking to the beach as mercury levels continued to soar.
Elsewhere, the authorities were forced to block access to Durdle Door and the Sandbanks Peninsula as hundreds flocked to the beauty spots in Dorset.
In a tweet Travel Dorset said: ‘Access road to Durdle Door will be closed shortly due to car parks at full capacity. Please avoid the area.’
Elsewhere, roads around the south coast were congested this afternoon as families made their way home after spending the day at the beach.
It comes as Northern Ireland saw its highest temperature on record yesterday, with Ballywatticock in County Down getting to 88.2F (31.2C), beating the previous high of 87.4F (30.8C) reached on both July 12, 1983 and June 30, 1976.
The sizzling weather, driven by a blast of warm air coming in from the Azores in the North Atlantic, has prompted health officials to issue warnings about the dangers of extreme heat and high UV ray levels – especially to the elderly and vulnerable.
The sweltering heat is due to last until the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday, the day when the last of the restrictions are due to be lifted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Tourists sit on Bournemouth beach and enjoy the rising mercury levels as the nation enjoys spells of warm sunshine
People jump into the sea at Brighton beach. The hottest day of the year so far was recorded in all four UK nations this weekend
The hottest day of the year was recorded in all UK nations yesterday and England and Wales saw warmer temperatures today
A coastguard helicopter lands on the beach at Durdle Door in Dorset to deal with a medical emergency
Beachgoers make space for the coastguard chopper as it lands on the beach at Durdle Door to deal with a medical emergency
Hundreds of sun seekers arrive to Bournemouth beach today as the country prepares to bask in temperatures of up 91F on what is expected to be the hottest day of the year
Visitors arrive to Bournemouth beach to enjoy the sizzling weather as the nations sees spells of warm sunshine break through
On Branksome beach in Poole, Dorset, crowds of sun-seekers sat on the hot sand and enjoyed the sea air
Anaya Evans (left) and Isabella Tucker (right) pose for pictures and cool off after winning their group stage match of the UKBT Grand Slam Beach Volleyball Classic at the beach in Weymouth today
A group of children run through Centenary Square Fountain in Birmingham as the summer heatwave continues to sweep across the nation
Northern Ireland experienced its hottest day ever on Saturday afternoon with 88.2F (31.2C) recorded in Ballywatticock, in County Down, beating the previous highest temperature which was reached on July 12, 1983 and June 30, 1976.
All four nations recorded their highest temperature for the year so far on Saturday, with 86.5F (30.3C) recorded in Coton In The Elms, Derbyshire, 85.28F (29.6C) reached in Usk, Monmouthshire, Wales and 82.76F (28.2C) in Threave, in the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland.
A Met Office spokesperson said: ‘We are expecting temperatures to continue on the high side right through until Thursday, although the day-to-day detail will change and there is a tendency for the highest maximum temperatures to migrate west.
‘So, we are expecting Monday and Tuesday for the maximum temperatures to be in the South West and in South Wales, and then later in the week temperatures climbing across Northern Ireland and the North West.’
Meanwhile, in Greater Manchester, a huge emergency service operation is underway after reports a missing 19-year-old man was struggling in Salford Quay.
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: ‘At about 4.40pm on Sunday 18 July, officers were called over concerns for a man in the water at Salford Quays.
‘North West Ambulance Service and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service are also in attendance and the scene is ongoing.’
Pictures from the scene show police, ambulance and fire crews working to find the struggling swimmer.
A statement from the fire service said: ‘At 4.35pm we received the first of several 999 calls in relation to a person needing to be rescued from water in Salford Quays.
A search is underway for a missing teen at Salford Quays this afternoon with a large emergency service response on scene
‘We have been searching the water for more than 30 minutes using fire service boats, divers and under water cameras – but we have not yet found the person.
‘We continue to search the water supported by colleagues from Greater Manchester Poliec and North West Ambulance Service.’
In Wales, a cricket player collapsed and died on the field after suffering a suspected heart attack during the heatwave.
Maqsood Anwar, 45, fell ill while bowling in the 80.6F (27C) weather on Saturday and believed he was suffering heat stroke before he collapsed.
Maqsood’s team Sully Centurions dialled 999 but the father-of-two, known as ‘Max’, could not be revived at the sports ground near Barry, South Wales.
The match against Monkswood CC was abandoned following the tragedy and friends have called for grassroots sports grounds across the UK to be fitted with defibrillators.
Friend Zia Gelhan said: ‘Max bowled four overs, got a bit of pain in his chest and said he didn’t feel well – he thought he had heat stroke and an ambulance was called.
‘Then he collapsed, if he had known the symptoms it would have been different.
‘Maqsood was one of the tallest and friendliest of men – he didn’t smoke, he didn’t drink, he was just one of the kindest of men.
‘The ambulance was there and they confirmed it was a heart attack, they tried to revive him but if was too late.
‘He passed away doing what he loved doing – playing cricket. If only Max knew what was happening but it would be two thumbs up and ‘I’m fine, just give me water.’
‘There should be a defibrillator on site, they could have had the machine on him. If clubs can afford covers this should be funded too.’
Nathan Baker said: ‘I think it’s now time for all sporting venues to be provided with defibrillators! A true gentleman was taken away far too soon today at cricket, a man who I had the pleasure to call a friend. RIP Maqsood Anwar.
Sully Centurions said: ‘Sully Centurions Cricket Club is mourning the passing of one of our players yesterday afternoon.
‘Both the family and members of the club are grieving and we would ask all to respect their privacy at this difficult time.’
Kirstina Katkute (left) and Alexandra Barton enjoy the hot weather in Green Park, London
People queue for refreshments in Green Park, central London, on the hottest day of the year so far
Competitors play for a place in the final of the UKBT Grand Slam Beach Volleyball Classic on a beach in Weymouth today
Bournemouth beach packed on the hottest day of the year so far as they bask in the sunlight
Women play in the sea on Bournemouth beach on the hottest day of the year so far
Women sip on drinks while they walk along Bournemouth beach today on the hottest day of the year
Sun lovers packed out Bournemouth beach today as the mercury topped 88F (31C) today
The entire beach was packed with sunbathers as they took in the sun on the hottest day of the year on Bournemouth beach
People row along the river in Richmond today on the hottest day of the year so far
A paddle boarder enjoys the sun as she rides up the River Thames in Richmond
Crowds gather to enjoy the warm sunny weather on Jubilee beach today in Southend-on-Sea
Holidaymakers having fun on the calm sea with pedalos and paddle boards at the seaside resort of Weymouth in Dorset
It also comes just days after Londoners were left battling ‘biblical storms’ as flash floods hit the capital this week and left a trail of destruction across the city, with rescue teams evacuating properties amid fears of collapsing ceilings and several tube stations forced to close.
As the summer heatwave continues Tom Morgan, meteorologist at the Met Office, said: ‘Temperatures are expected to increase even further on Sunday, reaching highs of 33C in the south of the UK.’
He added an extended hot spell of weather is expected to last for much of the week ahead, adding: ‘It’s going to mean that people are really going to feel the effects of the heat as we go through this week.’
Yesterday in England, 86.5F was recorded in Coton In The Elms, Derbyshire, surpassing the 85.4F recorded in south-west London on June 14.
The year’s highest temperatures so far were also recorded in Usk, Monmouthshire, Wales, at 85.2F, and in Threave, in the Dumfries and Galloway region of Scotland, at 82.7F.
The heat yesterday beat the previous 2021 high of 85.5F (29.7C) which had stood for more than a month after being set on June 14 in Teddington, South West London.
On Saturday, thousands descended upon a seaside in Linton-on-Ouse, North Yorkshire, as temperatures soared to 87.2F.
Hundreds of drivers were stuck in hour-long queues the M5 towards the South West from Bristol as holidaymakers rushed to enjoy the three-day heatwave.
Bournemouth also saw slow moving traffic jams as thousands of people flocked to the city’s beaches.
The M11 saw hours of standstill traffic build up after a fatal accident forced the closure of both sides of the motorway between junction eight for Bishop’s Stortford and junction nine for Newmarket.
On Saturday, a woman died during an incident on Croyde beach in Devon after being pulled from the sea shortly after 10.30am.
Croyde RNLI Lifeguards, Croyde, Ilfracombe and Mortehoe and the South West Ambulance Service were called to the scene but later confirmed the person had died.
A spokesperson for Devon and Cornwall Police said: ‘A body was located in the water. Non-suspicious circumstances.’
Met Office meteorologist Simon Partridge said the weather may take people by surprise ‘because so far this summer has not been that great’.
He added: ‘Temperatures have generally been below average for quite a while – it’s the difference in temperature in such a short space of time that is the most noticeable.’
Sun-lovers packed out Brighton beach today to revel in the heat which topped 88F (31C) today
Crowds gather to enjoy the warm sunny weather on Jubilee beach in Southend-on-Sea
People jump into the sea at Brighton beach in East Sussex on the hottest day of the year so far
Brighton beach in east Sussex was packed with sun lovers today on the hottest day of the year
Two women enjoy the sunny weather on the beach in West Wittering, West Sussex
A group of women dances and enjoys the hot weather on West Wittering beach in West Sussex
On a blazing hot Sunday West Wittering beach, West Sussex, is packed with thousands of people
Thousands of people flocked to Brighton seafront to enjoy heatwave as temperatures soar to 88F (31C)
Hundreds of beachgoers packed on to the sea front in Brighton today on the hottest day of the year
A woman jumped into the sea at Brighton beach today on the hottest day of the year so far
On a blazing hot Sunday West Wittering beach, West Sussex, is packed with thousands of people
Children enjoy a donkey ride on the beach in Weymouth as mercury levels continue to soar across England
Umbrellas and tents are put up on a beach in the seaside resort of Weymouth as hundreds descend upon the region
One woman was seen taking a selfie on a packed beach in Weymouth (left) while another person seen punting on the River Cam in Cambridge (right)
A young girl enjoys body boarding along the cool waters on Weymouth beach as hundreds of people across the nation enjoy the sun
Groups of people begin to pour onto Bournemouth beach today where temperatures are expected to soar to 80.6F
Kayakers take to the cool waters on a beach in Weymouth as scores of people across the country enjoy the heatwave today
Crowds of visitors pack onto the beach in Weymouth today as the UK enjoy a heatwave after a week of rain and thunderstorms
A woman laughs as her children bury her feet in the sand on a packed beach in Weymouth today as temperatures continue to soar
People cool off in the shade as hundreds of visitors pack onto a beach in Weymouth on what is expected to be the hottest day of the year so far
A group of friends enjoy the sizzling heat as they go out punting on a busy River Cam in Cambridge today
People enjoy the hot weather on Brighton beach in East Sussex today as temperatures across the country soar
Bournemouth beach is packed as hundreds of people descend upon the region to enjoy the rising temperature levels
Scores of people descend upon Weymouth beach today as health officials warm about the dangers of extreme heat and high UV ray levels
Competitors Anaya Evans and Isabella Tucker take a dip in the sea after winning their group stage match of the UKBT Grand Slam Beach Volleyball Classic in Weymouth
People enjoy the sun as they arrive to Weymouth beach where temperatures are expected to reach a sweltering 78.8F
Meanwhile in Hive Beach at Burton Bradstock in Dorset, crowds of visitors begin to flock to the region to bask in the sun
People put up umbrellas as they prepare to enjoy a balmy Sunday on Branksome beach in Poole as the UK prepares for an extended hot spell of weather
People begin to put up their tents on Branksome beach as the sizzling heat descends upon the nation and brings an end to a wet and windy week
People walk along Branksome beach in Poole in their swimming gear as the region enjoys a warm spell of sunshine
Visitors pour onto Branksome beach in Poole to take in the sea air and enjoy the sizzling heat on one of the hottest weekeds of the year so far
A man heads out to the waters with his dog on Branksome beach as sizzling weather, driven by a blast of warm air coming in from the Azores in the North Atlantic, arrives
Visitors arrive to Branksome beach this morning to get their spaces on the beach and enjoy the rising temperatures
Crowds of people arrive to Branksome beach as the sizzling weather makes its arrival and prompts health officials to issue warnings about the dangers of extreme heat and high UV ray levels
Crowds of visitors take a dip in the sea at Bournemouth beach as mercury levels soar across the country following a week of rain
On Branksome beach people bask in the summer heatwave, with the balmy weather due to last until so-called ‘Freedom Day’ on Monday
Sun seekers arrive to Branksome beach in Poole this morning to enjoy the waves and the warm weather following a week of rain and thunderstorms
People take a joy along Branksome beach in Poole this morning as the nation gears up for the hottest day of the year so far
The sunny weather comes just days after Londoners were left battling ‘biblical storms’ as flash floods hit the capital this week
People begin to pour onto Bournemouth beach as they prepare to enjoy the sunny weather driven by a blast of warm air coming in from the Azores in the North Atlantic
A woman reads a book as she sunbathes on the beach in Shaldon, Devon, as temperatures begin to soar across the country
The authorities were forced to block access to Durdle Door and the Sandbanks Peninsula as hundreds flocked to the beauty spots in Dorset
Mr Partridge continued: ‘But it will affect most of the UK and that is a little bit more unusual – Scotland and Northern Ireland just got their warmest day of the year.
‘Northern Ireland might get closer to its highest-ever temperature, which to be fair is only just above 30C.’
It came as hundreds of revellers were seen taking to the streets of Soho in London, Manchester and Leeds to enjoy a night out on Saturday.
The RNLI – which provides the mostly paid lifeguards across the UK – is predicting this summer will be the busiest ever with up to 30million visitors heading to the beach – a rise of 36 per cent.
Gareth Morrison, RNLI’s Head of Water Safety, said: ‘We are expecting this summer to be the busiest ever for our lifeguards and volunteer lifeboat crews.
‘RNLI lifeguards will be patrolling around 245 beaches this summer to offer advice on how to stay safe and they are also there to help anyone who gets into trouble.
‘Our main advice is to visit a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.’
In Brighton and Hove dozens of lifeguards have been recruited and trained in preparation for the summer holidays.
One lifeguard said: ‘It’s going to be a very busy summer and we’re taking on many more so we can cope.’
They have also built elevated look-out towers to give lifeguards a clear view of the sea over crowds of sunbathers.
The towers allow the lifeguards to monitor the beaches and bathing areas without coming into contact with people on the packed beaches.
Claire Hughes of HM Coastguard, said: ‘2020 was an exceptionally busy year and we’re expecting more people to take their holidays around our wonderful coasts this summer.’
Revellers descend upon a street in Leeds and enjoy a night out just before the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ as the nation enjoys rising mercury levels
People sit on the street as the enjoy a night out in Leeds last night following a week of heavy rain and thunderstorms across the UK
People dance in the streets as they enjoy a night out in Leeds on Saturday as a blast of warm air coming in from the Azores in the North Atlantic brings with it sizzling heat
Crowds of people walk through the streets of Leeds as they enjoy a night out with friends as the country enjoys balmy weather
A group of friends take to the streets of Leeds on Saturday as the nation prepares for a weekend of sunny weather
Groups of people take to the streets of Manchester last night to enjoy a night out with friends as the nation enjoys a mini heatwave
Revellers enjoy a night out in Manchester last night on one of the hottest days of the year as hundreds across the nation enjoy a mini heatwave
Party-goers take to the streets of Manchester (left) and Soho in London as the nation enjoys rising mercury levels
Revellers sit on the street in Manchester as the UK prepares for the last of the restrictions to be lifted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday
A spokesman for Brighton and Hove Council said: ‘The reason we have had to employ more lifeguards than usual this year is to be able to operate and provide emergency response in a Covid-safe way.
‘Rescues require a different approach to minimise the risk to the rescuer and casualty. So this means we need more staff on each post to facilitate this.’
‘The towers also allow the lifeguards to keep a safe distance from the public when the beaches are filling up. This is important during the pandemic for staff safety.’
A survey commissioned by the RNLI found record numbers of holidaymakers aged between 16-64 expect to visit a UK beach or the coast between April and September.
Last summer, RNLI lifeguards recorded more than 15million visitors on the beaches the lifesaving charity was patrolling on.
In 2020, RNLI lifeguards saved 110 lives, aided 25,172 people – including 1,908 involving bodyboards and 348 with inflatables – responded to 10,687 incidents and made more than 2.2million preventative actions.