Great half-term escape: traffic trouble hits Britain AND it's going to rain

The great half-term escape: traffic trouble hits Britain AND it's going to rainHalf term holiday traffic hit the M5 near Bristol yesterday. Photo: PA

British staycationers heading off on their half term holidays were hit with gridlocked traffic yesterday - and there's more to come.

Experts estimate there will be around 15 million cars on the road this weekend, and say it is traditionally one of the most chaotic travel times of the year.

The good news? The weather is still set to be warm and dry for the next two days, reaching 20C in some parts of the country tomorrow.

The bad news? Next week could see rain showers and gale force winds.

Dan Williams from the Met Office said it would be a weekend of 'unseasonably mild temperatures', with most of Britain experiencing mainly cloud with occasional spells of sunshine.

He told the Daily Mail: 'There will be some showers, mainly in Scotland and the West, and the sunshine will be brightest in the South East.

'On Sunday it will be fine and dry with unseasonably mild temperatures for this time of year, with London and the South East reaching 20C.

'However, there will a risk of gales in exposed locations, and the weather will continue to be unsettled throughout the week, with a mixture of sunshine and showers expected in most regions.

'The rain will be heaviest in the West and South West, with strong winds expected, but above average temperatures.'

Four million UK trips will be made by Brits heading off on staycation over the next week.

Sarah Long of VisitBritain said: 'October half-term is an important week for the tourism industry and a great opportunity for people to enjoy the best that the country has to offer.'

As usual, a spokesman for Network Rail advised travellers to check their website before heading off on a train journey, adding that engineering work will be taking place at various sites, 'just like any other weekend'.

Airports are also expected to be rammed, with BAA predicting over 215,000 passengers will pass through Heathrow.

And the top half-term long-haul hotspots? New York, followed by Dubai, Dublin, Amsterdam and LA.

Make the most of the beautiful weekend weather by discovering some of Britain's most beautiful gardens:

Ten of Britain's most amazing gardens
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Great half-term escape: traffic trouble hits Britain AND it's going to rain

Set overlooking the River Conwy and Snowdonia, the beautiful Bodnant Garden is a gardener’s haven and the ideal day out for all the family. The upper garden has formal and informal lawns and is full of colour in spring when its bright flowers are in bloom. The lower garden has a wild garden, a pond and the Old Mill. One of the garden's must-see attractions is the Laburnum Arch, which is delightful at the beginning in June when it's in full bloom, and the 18th-century Pin Mill (pictured).

How to get there: Arrive at Llandudno Junction railway station and take a number 25 bus to Bodnant Garden.

Kew Gardens is arguably the most famous in Britain and home to the world's largest collection of living plants. There are over 30,000 different kinds and more than just nature to entertain you. Check out the library with its huge collection of books, photos and maps. The Orangery is a great place to stop for lunch and children and adults alike will love a walk over the Treetop Walkway, which sways when the wind blows!

How to get there: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a five-minute walk from Kew Gardens London Underground station on the District Line.

If you're passionate about art and design, you'll love the lush Mount Stewart Garden for its architectural style. From Easter egg hunts to summer garden walks and the Hallow'een Enchanted Garden, there's plenty on offer at the Garden to keep you coming back to the intriguing National Trust property. Be sure not to miss the topiary arches of the Spanish Garden and the perfectly manicured Italian Garden, which give Mount Stewart a Mediterranean feel.

How to get there: Mount Stewart is 15 miles south-east of Belfast by car.

Waterfalls, sculptures and Monet bridges are just some of the treasures you'll find at Attadale Gardens in the Scottish Highlands. They’re set on 20 acres of landscape and include the beautiful Japanese Garden, the charming Sunken Garden and the Kitchen Garden, where you'll find fruit and vegetables. Some of the interesting sculptures around the gardens are of a torso, a chameleon and a crowned eagle. Look out for the bright blue poppies (pictured) that appear in spring if you're visiting at this time of year.

How to get there: Travel to Attadale by car, which is on the A890 between Strathcarron and S. Strome.

There's always something going on in the gardens of Hever Castle, which was Anne Boleyn's childhood home. In spring the tulips are in bloom, daffodils fill Anne Boleyn’s Orchard and the rest of the gardens and the walls are covered in camellias. Summer sees the Herb Garden looking its best, the 3,000 roses in the Rose Garden in full bloom and the Italian Garden looking superb. Autumn's also a treat with the roses still worth seeing and beautiful autumnal colours throughout the landscape. As the gardens of Hever Castle date back to 1901, history buffs will love discovering the stories of the enchanting surroundings.

How to get there: Take a train to Edenbridge Town Station from London Victoria or London Bridge and then get a taxi to the Hever Castle, which is three miles away.

The picturesque woodland gardens of Exbury is the ideal day out for gardening enthusiasts, children and those just looking to visit a beautiful place. Plants, trees, wildlife and conservation cover the magnificent space and the breathtaking Rhododendron Garden with over 1,000 flowering species that peak in May is a must-see. The Exbury Gardens Railway runs through the gardens and is a fun way to the flowers and plants on offer.

How to get there: The gardens are in the New Forest, just 20 minutes from junction 2 of the M27.

The magical Alnwick Garden opened just a decade ago but is one of the UK's most fun-for-all and unique landscapes. Let the kids get wet in the Serpent Garden, get the whole family learning about dangerous plants in the Poison Garden and marvel at the Taihaku cherry trees in the Cherry Orchard. Alnwick Garden's most unique feature is the Treehouse, built from Canadian cedar, Scandinavian redwood and English and Scots pine, and where you can stop for lunch at the restaurant with a roaring log fire, handcrafted furniture and trees growing out of the floor!

How to get there: Alnwick Garden is off the A1 and well signposted. By rail, the main east coast line from London to Edinburgh stops at Alnmouth and you can catch a bus or taxi to the Garden from there.

Play hide and seek in the maze, run wild in the woodlands and walk around the lake at Trentham Gardens. The gardens of Trentham Estate offer peace and quiet or fun and action, making it a great place for everyone to visit. The pretty Italian Garden is worth seeing all year round, the Floral Labyrinth in the Eastern Pleasure Ground has an abundance of bright colours and wonderful scents, and the Barefoot Walk allows you to tantalise your toes and enjoy a kilometre's walk through the meadows and woodland.

How to get there: Trentham Gardens is just five minutes from the M6, junction 15.

This gorgeous garden is set around the ruins of an Elizabethan house, with woods, farmland and amazing views of the faraway fields and meadows of Kent. Sissinghurst Castle Garden is one of the most famous gardens in Britain and some of its most stunning attractions include the romantic garden, which is full of colour throughout the seasons and the vegetable garden, which provides fruit and vegetables for the estate’s Granary Restaurant.

How to get there: Arrive at Staplehurst railway station, which is five miles away from Sissinghurst Castle Garden.

A visit to these sub-tropical, dreamlike gardens on the Isles of Scilly is a great way of combining a historical trip with one to Britain's most enchanting attractions. Because of Tresco island's mild winter climate and summer sunshine, it's home to thousands of exotic plants from all over the world. Tresco Abbey Gardens' most unique treasures is the Valhalla's collection of shipwrecked figureheads that date back to 1840. You'll also find ruined arches and walls from a medieval monastery that was housed in the gardens.

How to get there: Catch a ferry or plane from the main Isles of Scilly island, St Mary's.


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