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Wintry start ahead of bank holiday

Snow, sleet and sub-zero temperatures have marked the start of a wintry spring bank holiday.

Parasols and picnic baskets were left packed away as Britons faced three days of unseasonably bad weather.

The skies over southern England were grey with patchy rain and drizzle while showers further north were interspersed with sunny intervals.

Temperatures in north east England peaked at about 5C or 6C and even in Cornwall the mercury struggled to climb above a chilly 11C, forecasters said.

The lowest temperature recorded overnight was in south west Scotland, where it dropped to -6C, according to MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association.

"It's been a pretty cold day," said forecaster Nick Prebble. "We've seen flurries of snow in Scotland over the Grampians and north west Highlands, and there's been sleet and wet snow there too. There's also been a few light sleet showers in northern England, in the northern parts of the Pennines."

Sunday was set to bring more wintry snow flurries over high ground, mainly in Scotland, although elsewhere the weather could be slightly less cold. Monday was forecast to remain unsettled, with a band of heavy rain edging north east across most parts of the country, Mr Prebble said.

The dismal outlook follows weeks of wet weather which brought floods to widespread parts of the country. Four flood warnings remained in place and the Environment Agency said that although levels were receding, they would be monitoring the situation.

Meanwhile, roads stayed fairly clear, with many people opting to stay at home. A Highways Agency spokesman said: "The roads haven't been overly congested, performing well despite the weather."

An accident on the M40 was the only trouble spot flagged up, with Liverpool fans heading to the FA Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley advised to avoid the motorway.