• By Katy Austin, transport correspondent, & Andre Rhoden-Paul
  • BBC News

Image caption,

Motoring company RAC has warned journeys could take twice as long due to the bank holiday weekend coinciding with the beginning of the Easter holidays

Britons embarking on their Easter getaways are experiencing travel disruption, with high winds and heavy rain fuelling delays.

A record number of travellers are expected to make journeys by air over the Easter weekend, which coincides with the end of term for many schools.

Drivers have been warned that journeys by road could take twice as long on popular routes.

There is also some disruption to rail, air and ferry services.

Some 11 million people in the UK are planning an overnight trip this Easter, according to the tourist board Visit England.

Wet and windy conditions hit parts of Northern Ireland and the south of England on Thursday, with several rail operators reporting weather-related disruption, and planned engineering works set to put further pressure on services.

Some flights and ferry services have also been cancelled.

The rest of the UK experienced spells of dry and fairly sunny weather, though the low pressure risked clouds and downpours, with snow already falling in Devon.

A survey by motoring company RAC and Transport analysis company Inrix suggests 14 million Easter getaway trips by road would be made this weekend, with the worst congestion on Thursday afternoon.

“With Easter falling earlier than usual at the start of the school holidays, it could be carmageddon for holidaymakers,” an RAC breakdown spokesperson said.

There are reports of congestion along several motorways, including the M5 and M4 near Bristol. National Highways also reports long delays along the M1, M11 and M25.

National Highways is warning of delays of 45 minutes and approximately five miles of congestion on the M5 near Easter Compton after three of four lanes were closed northbound earlier in the day following a multi-vehicle collision.

Airports braced for record numbers

Airports and airlines are bracing for “record-breaking” passenger numbers as holidaymakers jet off abroad for the weekend.

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Stansted Airport has been very busy already this week

Manchester Airport said it was preparing for about 320,000 passengers this weekend, 8% more than the equivalent last year.

Glasgow Airport said it would have extra staff in place during “three exceptionally busy weekends ahead”.

Low-cost airline Easyjet is predicting its busiest ever Easter weekend.

Travellers are having to contend with the weather, with Ryanair warning on Thursday morning that high winds could disrupt air travel from London.

Delays and cancellations have hit several airports across the UK, including East Midlands, Manchester, London City Airport, Stansted, Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton.

What about train travel?

Southern Railway, the Gatwick Express, Great northern, Thameslink, and South Western are reporting possible delays due to poor weather.

Some coastal routes in Cornwall, Somerset and Devon have been affected by flooding on the lines, with speed restrictions in place in some areas.

Flooding on the Great Western Railway network in Pewsey and Melksham meant several trains were unable run as scheduled.

There will be further disruption over the bank holiday as some major routes close due to engineering work.

London Euston, one of the UK’s busiest railway stations, will be closed between Good Friday and Easter Monday – except for London Overground trains.

It is because Network Rail engineering works between London and Milton Keynes will close part of the West Coast Main Line.

There will be replacement buses on this stretch. Avanti West Coast will operate a revised service on its network.

Tighter checks at Dover

French authorities at Dover have stepped up border monitoring following the Moscow concert hall attack. Drivers are being advised to plan ahead and leave extra time.

Around 20,000 cars are expected to travel through the port between Thursday and Easter Sunday.

At peak times over the next few days, Dover has told coach operators that even with the right resources in place at the border, wait times could be up to 2.5 hours.

Eurotunnel told the BBC it was putting on extra shuttles and staff to cope with expected high numbers.

The ferry operator DFDS said on Thursday all services were currently operating with delays “due to strong winds in the Channel”.

It has cancelled some ferries from Newhaven to Dieppe, and Calais to Dover.

How is the weather looking?

The Easter break began with some less-than-preferable weather, which should calm down through the weekend, says BBC Weather presenter Chris Fawkes.

Europe is contending with Storm Nelson, which was named by Spanish forecasters.

High winds have forced a number of tourist attractions to close early, including London’s Kew Gardens, parts of Kensington Gardens, a number of National Trust properties in the south west and Dartmoor Zoo.

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Householders in Devon woke up to snowfall on Thursday

By Good Friday the UK is set to see a mix of sunshine and showers with the potential for some heavy rain and hail, though temperatures will remain close to average.

Throughout Saturday and Sunday, some showers are expected, though these are unlikely to be as widespread, and slightly warmer temperatures will mean pockets of sunshine will feel quite pleasant.

By Monday wet and windy weather is likely to lash England and Wales, but Scotland and Northern Ireland look to remain pleasant with sunny spells.

Additional reporting by Emily Atkinson and Hafsa Khalil

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