In pictures: Britons flock to beaches during coronavirus lockdown on hottest day of the year

Jimmy Nsubuga

Britons have flocked to beaches during the coronavirus lockdown as the UK recorded its hottest day of the year so far – beating a top temperature set the day before.

The mercury climbed to 27.8C (82F) near Heathrow Airport on Wednesday, as sunbathers across England enjoyed new found-freedom following the easing of restrictions.

London’s St James’s Park recorded a high of 26.2C (79F) on Tuesday – beating 2020’s previous top of 26C (78.8F) set last month.

But that temperature was again topped on Wednesday.

Balmy conditions have tested the nation’s resolve in maintaining two-metre social distancing in parks and open spaces.

Met Office meteorologist Greg Dewhurst said the vast majority of the UK would enjoy a dry, sunny day on Wednesday.

Weather conditions are expected to become more unsettled on Thursday, with the risk of thunderstorms in the east and south-east of England as a band of rain pushes eastwards.

Temperatures are predicted to cool from 24C (75.2F) or 25C (77F) before the rain to a fresher 17C (62.6F) to 21C (69.8F) on Friday.

Dewhurst predicted a windy start to the weekend with sunshine and showers for many, with the weather gradually turning drier from the south on Sunday and into bank holiday Monday.