Taking the dog for a walk became a hazardous mission yesterday as large swathes of Britain woke up to the first major snowfall of winter.
While it created spectacular scenes – such as the glistening white avenue of trees in Carrshield in Northumberland (main picture) – there were also travel problems and warnings of more cold weather on the way.
Areas as far south as Kent and Essex experienced a good dusting, with drivers stranded in Chelmsford after flash flooding.
In West Yorkshire, Bradford and Leeds were among the northern areas to see a large amount of snow.
The snowfall followed the coldest night of the winter so far, with -9.6C (15F) in the Scottish Highlands. Up to 8in of snow fell overnight in parts of the Highlands.
Residents also reported ‘thundersnow’ – a natural phenomenon where snowfall is accompanied by thunder and lightning.
Forecasters said the cold weather will last into next week, although they predicted there would be some sunny spells this weekend.
A dog walker negotiates heavy overnight snow in Carrshield in the Pennines, near Hexham in Northumberland
A snowplough clears heavy overnight snow in Carrshield in the Pennines, near Hexham in Northumberland
West Lothian Dipper John Keogh brave the cold snow waters of Harperrig Reservoir in West Lothian, Scotland
A woman walks along the platform of the railway station as snow falls in the village of Marsden, near Manchester
Cars pass through a flooded road near Ashford, Kent, following overnight rain and snow
The Met Office published a five-day forecast on its website which warned of unsettled weather with ‘cold rain, sleet and some strong winds’.
Today is expected to be drier – although still cold – and there is the possibility of rain across parts of south west and north east England.
By tomorrow the rain is due to be replaced by fog with patches across the majority of the country, although the weather will otherwise be calmer, if cold.
Fog is due to last into Monday, with unsettled weather and rain pushing into eastern areas.
Donal Considine, a forecaster for Meteogroup, said: ‘There was some rain and snow across Dartmoor and Exmoor. We have seen snow in the Midlands and some unexpected widespread snow for Essex and Leeds.
‘After a chilly night we are going to have a much brighter and dry day with patchy cloud cover and some patchy showers for the south west of England and the north east.
‘It will be less chilly and windy by Sunday which will see lingering foggy patches of weather. It will be a calm day and quite cool with some showery outbreaks for central and north east England.
‘The fog will stay for many parts, especially the south east. Monday is looking to be quite similar as it will be mostly dry and calm but with lingering patches of fog.’
Met Office Chief Meteorologist Neil Armstrong said after a wet and cold day across the UK: ‘There will be further rain at times tonight with sleet or wet snow still possible over hills’.
The UK was blanketed with snow yesterday as winter arrived in earnest – sparking travel chaos in some parts of the country Motorists were left having to dig their cars out of the white powder before attempting to embark on journeys on icy roads.
Highland cattle are seen in the snow at Belton House in Grantham, Lincs, and a small snowman was seen waving the Union Jack outside a closed pub in Grantham
A man walks alongside Brun Clough Reservoir in snowy and foggy conditions above the village of Delph, near Manchester
Snow-covered homes are illuminated at dusk in the village of Marsden, near Manchester
Snow fell heavily in the North Pennines, creating postcard like scenes at Killhope Mining Museum in County Durham
A woman protects her dog against the wind as she walks through the snow Penyfan, in the Brecon Beacons
A car drives through heavy snowfall near Kirklees, West Yorkshire, with more expected in the area
A dog walker braves the torrential snow coming down at Woolsthorpe Locke, Woolsthorpe, Leicestershire
A snow covered field, except a tiny patch of green under a tree, near Ashford in Kent following overnight rain and snow
Residents of Great Gonerby, in Lincolnshire, clear snow from their driveways and pathways as winter weather hits
A man works in snowy conditions adjacent to Redbrook Reservoir above the village of Marsden, near Manchester
A dog writhes in the snow near Brun Clough Reservoir as snow falls above the village of Delph, near Manchester
A train passes through Ashford in Kent following overnight rain and snow, which has battered most of the country
A paperboy battling through the Snow in Colchester, Essex, after the unexpected overnight flurry of snow in the county
One motorist clears heavy overnight snow from a car in Carrshield in the Pennines, near Hexham in Northumberland
Commuters fumed at news that no trains can run between Lewes and Eastbourne due to heavy flooding on the line at Polegate.
Services were not expected to resume till early afternoon as long as there was no more downpours.
Surprised people living in Essex as well as nearby Kent and Suffolk got out of their beds to find polar landscapes out of their windows as the sun rose of their counties.
And many in Edinburgh were already gazing at the icy sights, after being roused from their sleep to loud bangs of as so-called ‘Thundersnow’ in the Scottish city.
The sounds of ‘explosions’ are a rare weather phenomenon, caused by thunder and lightning combined with snow.
Bradford in West Yorkshire also experienced a large amount of snow, which covered much of the city.
The Met Office said wet snow fell across parts of Kent which may spread northwards with some snow over the Wealds and Downs of south-east England.
Rain, sleet and snow is also expected across a broad swathe of Scotland and northern England.
It was the coldest night of autumn/winter so far, with -9.6C (14.72F) recorded at Altnaharra, Sutherland, in the Highlands, according to the Met Office.
Dog walkers negotiate overnight snow in Carrshield in the Pennines, near Hexham in Northumberland after the overnight fall
The coldest night of the year is still -10.2C (13.64F) recorded at Braemar in Aberdeenshire on February 13.
A Met Office weather warning for snow and heavy rain through to Friday at 10am was issued for the east of England plus London and the South East.
It warned of heavy rain and snow that could lead to tricky travel due to surface water and ‘possible slushy accumulations’.
It added: ‘ In a few places 1-2cm of snow could accumulate, mainly on grassy surfaces over the North Downs and Chilterns’
A number of yellow warnings for ice and snow are in place across large areas of Scotland and Northern Ireland and stretch down into North Yorkshire which suggest possible travel disruption.
Snow in parts of Scotland left motorists tackling difficult driving conditions while there were also reports of ‘thundersnow’ in some areas.
Snow settles in the hills on the outskirts of Bradford, West Yorks, as motorists avoid the roads in the treacherous conditions
A driver digs his car out of snow in Bathgate, West Lothian, after getting stuck in the white stuff as he tried to travel
The Queensferry Crossing was closed to vehicles in both directions due to the weather, including falling ice and snow, while in the North East police warned of dangerous driving conditions on the A93 and the B993.
Rail passengers are also affected, with ScotRail warning of ‘significant disruption to services on multiple routes’ due to heavy snow.
Police Scotland Control Rooms said it had received a number of calls from people who were concerned after they heard explosions and strange noises.
Police Scotland Control Rooms tweeted on Friday at about 5am: ‘Please do not be alarmed, we are currently experiencing thunder and lightning.’
Met Office meteorologist Aidan McGivern described early Friday as being that ‘awkward mixture of cold rain, sleet and falling snow’ for many areas of Britain.
The Met Office said the cold spell is expected to last through to Friday but that the weekend would see brighter weather and even some sunshine.
It added that temperatures going into next week would be lower than the average annual temperature, which is usually about 7C (44.6F) to 9C (48.2F).
** Have you taken photos of the snow in Britain today? Please email them to: [email protected] **