Escape to Spain is on as Britain braced for bank holiday rain

By Gwyn Topham and Miren Hurtado
Story published in The Guardian on 23 August 2012

2012_08_23_Escape to Spain is on as Britain braced for bank holiday rain_Notting Hill carnival
Image: Miren Hurtado. Thousands of revellers attended the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s biggest street festival.

The last scramble for the fading summer sun will see Britons revelling in it and around 1.8 million will head overseas this bank holiday weekend.

Double that number are planning to get away within the UK, where the weather is likely to include traditional holiday downpours for most, according to Met Office forecasts.

Forecasters predict possibly heavy rain across Wales, south-west England and Northern Ireland today, followed by a very unsettled Saturday with plenty of sometimes thundery downpours, threatening more unwelcome mud for revellers at music festivals at Leeds and Reading.

An estimated 400,000 people will be flying from Heathrow over the weekend, with 250,000 leaving from Gatwick and 150,000 from Manchester. Travel organisation Abta said Spain and its islands were the most popular overseas destinations.

The south and south-west coasts of England will be major draws for those taking breaks in the UK, but according to National Express coach operators, the mid-Games lure of London is also going to pull in thousands of visitors with bookings highest on services travelling to the capital.

In west London revellers will gather for the Notting Hill carnival, billed a Europe’s biggest street festival. About a million people attend the carnival each year. The Highways Agency said about 194 miles of roadworks will be completed before the weekend and 59 miles of further works will be suspended over the holiday period, although works will persist on the M1 near Luton. The organisation said this evening and bank holiday Monday afternoon were expected to be the busiest times on the roads.

According to Trafficmaster, the top congestion hotspots will be on roads south and west from London, including the M3 near the Dorset coast, the M4, the western M25, and further afield on the M5 and A303 in the south-west. Network Rail and the Association of Train Operating Companies said about 6.1 million passengers were expected to travel on mainline trains between Saturday and Monday. On the railways there will be some engineering work but 94% of services will run as normal.

VisitEngland said up to 3.6 million Britons would be taking up a trip in the UK involving at least one night away at the weekend. Meanwhile, the heritage industry is warning that another washout could imperil the survival of special historic sites.

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One thought on “Escape to Spain is on as Britain braced for bank holiday rain”

  1. I read an article you wrote for The Guardian concerning the infamous Cecilia Gimenez and her current state. I was wondering if you would have an idea as to how I can reach her or what address I could send a personal letter. I am very saddened about her self-exile and would like to let her know that people are not so cruel. If you can help me please email me at gmremulla@gmail.com Thank you!

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