By Daily Mail Reporter
Hot on the heels of the warmest end to September on record, today was Britain’s most scorching October day in more than a century.
Just four weeks before the clocks go back for winter, Britain is in the middle of an Indian summer like no other with sizzling temperatures expected to continue into early next week.
Met Office confirmed today's top temperature of 29.9c (85.82f) in Gravesend, Kent, was the hottest October day recorded since its records began in 1910.
Can you believe it's October? People flocked to Brighton beach today as temperatures across the country soared, making it the hottest October for 26 years
Don't step on my sandcastle! There was hardly room to move on Brighton beach this afternoon as thousands of people threw down their winter coats and dug out their swimwear
Going swimmingly: Young men relax on the River Cam in Cambridge as temperatures climbed today to 29.5c, the hottest October in 26 years
Basking: Sharna Kamber and Lisa Lou enjoy the sunshine in Gravesend where the temperatures reached 29.5c at 13.27 today
Taking a dip: A tourist enjoys the pools of Trafalgar Square as temperatures across the UK rose today, with some experts predicting it could reach 30c by 3pm
A spokeswoman said: 'The temperature in Gravesend in Kent was reading 29.5C at 13:27 and still rising. This beats the previous record of 29.4 C recorded at March in Cambridgeshire on 1st October 1985.'
Tourism chiefs said hotels in Brighton and Bournemouth were almost all full as up to 400,000 sun worshippers were expected to flood to the resorts over the weekend.
Tesco predicted it would sell an extra 3.5million sausages in the next three days compared with the number it usually would at the start of October.
Like a summer holiday: Sizzling temperatures meant pubs and fish and chip shops did a roaring trade, especially at Brighton beach
Making a splash: A man carries his daughter out of the water of the Serpentine, in Hyde Park, today
Splash happy: Akshiga Vigithbabu, 4, plays in the water fountains outside the MIMA Gallery, Middlesbrough, today
Playtime: Children play in inflatable spheres in a pool on Brighton beach today
Warm daybreak: An early morning jogger makes the most of the sunshine today in Cambridge
Sizzling temperatures: Children in the centre of Sheffield play in a fountain
Taking a break: A man sleeps on two deck chairs on Brighton pier as thousands flocked to the seaside town to enjoy the rare October sunshine
It also expected to sell 550,000 burgers, ten million bottles and cans of beer, three million bottles of wine and 500,000 tubs of ice cream over the weekend.
The heatwave – triggered by high pressure to the east which has brought southerly winds from France and the Mediterranean – even compelled the RSPCA to reissue its traditional summer warning about the dangers of leaving pets in hot cars.
The past two days have been the hottest September 29 and 30 since records began.
Met Office forecaster Dave Britton said yesterday’s warmest spot was Cambridge, which recorded 29.2c (85f) – hotter than the Costa del Sol, Turkey, Cuba and Mexico.
It was around ten degrees above average for the start of autumn.
The previous record for the last day of September was 27.8c (82f), set in 1908 in Maidenhead, Berkshire.
Jonathan Powell, senior forecaster at Positive Weather Solutions, a network of UK-based independent meteorologists, predicted a 60 per cent chance that temperatures could hit 32c (90f) in the south today.
And Mr Britton said: ‘I will not be surprised if temperatures reach 30c (86f) in parts of the south.’
He added: ‘The high temperatures will continue through Sunday, but by Tuesday temperatures will start to slip back towards the average for this time of year.’
Here it comes: The sun rises over River Thames this morning ahead of what was the hottest October day in 26 years
Beachgoers bask in the sunshine at Seaburn this morning where the heatwave has brought people outside to make the most of the Indian summer
The unexpected bout of good weather is confusing garden plants, which have been tricked into blooming for a second time this year.
Even night-time temperatures have been as high as 63f (17c) across the country – usually the average in the daytime in September.
There has barely been a cloud in the sky across England and the good weather is set to continue until Tuesday, when westerly winds will bring cooler temperatures and a chance of showers.
However, some areas of the UK are missing out on the record temperatures.
Northern Ireland was covered in cloud yesterday, although still feeling quite warm.
In Scotland, rain was threatening the north west and could move down as far as northern areas of England.
But there were fears that while the hot weather would boost tourism, it would be another blow for Britain’s struggling retailers as sun-worshippers stayed away from the shops, which are already selling winter coats and knitwear for autumn.
Nick Bubb, retail analyst at Arden Partners, said sales of barbecues and ice creams would not make up for the shortfall.
Summer leaves in the fall: Esme McDonald, six, from Darlington, County Durham, enjoys the the warm autumn weather today
Picnic time: Members of the public enjoy the warm weather beside Virginia Water at The Royal Landscape, Surrey
‘Retailers need cold autumnal weather,’ he said. ‘It’s a big problem at a time when consumers don’t feel like spending anyway.’
It was a different story in Scotland and Northern Ireland where rain was falling and temperatures were struggling to get into the mid-teens.
In Belfast it was raining and it was more of a case of grabbing an umbrella than sunscreen.
Rachel Vince, senior meteorologist with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said much of central and southern England was enjoying unseasonably high temperatures. Humberside and Bradford had both hit around 28C.
Miss Vince said the fine weather was expected to last until the middle of next week in the South East corner of the UK, then drop to a fresher 18-20C.
Other parts of the UK could expect more rain in coming days but 'nothing particularly stormy or horrendous', she added.
It's not all sunshine? People in Belfast were armed with umbrellas as London basked in heatwave today