-Councils still have 1.5tonne mountain of grit after mild weather
-18C expected in eastern England on Tuesday as temperatures soar
By ROB COOPER
'Beach weather': Masie Kennedy, aged two, plays on the sand on the beach at Bournemouth today
Britain has had its warmest winter for four years and one of the hottest since records began, official figures revealed today.
Temperatures could rise as high as 18C on Tuesday - hotter than in Egypt - after an unusually warm February weekend.
It reached 13C in Cardiff yesterday - and mercury was expected to hit 12C today as the country basks in glorious winter weather.
Sun: Two young girls run along the beach at Bournemouth today as the cloud stays away
Met Office figures show central England temperatures have averaged 5.1C since December 1, making this the mildest winter since the 5.6C in 2007-08, and in the top 15 per cent warmest winters since records began 353 years ago, in 1659.
The mildest winter on record in central England, the area between London, Manchester and Bristol, was 1868-69, at 6.8C.
Met Office forecaster Michael Lawrence said today that there was more warm weather on the way.
'We could see up to 18C on Tuesday. This week as a whole is going to be rather cloudy but where it does break in some eastern areas we could get up to 17C or we will perhaps see 18C,' he said.
Winter sun: A woman takes a dip wearing only a bikini on the beach at Brighton today
Warm winter weather: Alex Kingston, aged five, with his pet dog Alfie, enjoys the remarkable warm weather in Darlington, County Durham
'This is on the back of last week where we saw 18.7C at Coles Hill, near Birmingham. It looks like this week we might just fall below Tuesday.
'The warmest temperatures are likely to be in the north-east of Britain and Aberdeenshire. There is a lower probability that we could see similar temperatures in the Midlands.'
However, he warned there is a risk of frost in some areas towards the end of the week and into the start of March.
Forecaster Brian Gaze of the Weather Outlook said: 'This winter has been much milder than we've experienced in the last few years and was astonishingly warm last week.
'Before the February snow, it looked like being comparable with one of those 'Mediterranean winters' of the 1990s and early 2000s, when people were wondering when it would snow again in southern England.
Spring bloom: Amy Eager, aged five, sat enjoying the spring sunshine on a spring patch work blanket of Crocuses in Darlington, County Durham today
'The season will finish on another very mild note thanks to another pulse of warm air from the south-west, with temperatures soaring again, probably to similar levels to temperatures in the south a few days ago.'
Despite still officially being winter, a 25-acre nursery in Titchfield, Hampshire, is bursting with colour from the spring blooms.
Each acre contains six tonnes of daffodil bulbs and the nursery grows ten different varieties.
Jon Parrett, a partner at Hollam Nursery, said: 'It's a beautiful sight to see the fields full of daffodils, especially as we had the cold snap not long ago.
'The mild winter caused us a bit of havoc and gave us early blooms in January, but then we had the snow and that finished them off.
Spring: Amy Eager and Alex Kingston, both five, walk through the field of crocuses together
Warm weather: Lily Wilson, seven, enjoys the spring-like conditions at Frensham Pond, Frensham, Surrey today
Spring on its way: Oliver Lawrence, eight, splashes in the water at Frensham Pond today. Forecasters are predicting temperatures of 18C next week
'Now the fields are thick with daffodils so as long as the weather keeps up we'll be picking from now until the end of March.'
As spring shows signs of arriving early, councils have been left with 1.5million tonnes of grit - 60 per cent of their total winter stocks.
Local authorities and the Department of Transport stockpiled a record-breaking total of more than 2.5million tonnes of grit - more than twice last winter's total - fearing a repeat of the December 2010 big freeze.
However, as this winter has turned out to be so mild, councils now have mountains worth an estimated £50million remaining.
A Local Government Association spokesman said: 'The amount of grit used so far is certainly less than last year, when councils used an estimated 1.2 million tonnes.'
Bloom: Safira Khan, 3, plays with her dad, Mohammed Khan among a stunning display of crocuses in Derby today
Sunny: Four young women enjoy the sunshine at Plymouth Hoe, Devon, today as Britain continues to enjoy an unusually warm winter
Britain in bloom: A child sits in a sea of daffodils at Hollam Nursery, in Titchfield, Hampshire today. Two weeks ago this field was covered in snow
Spring is here: This 25-acre farm will be harvested over the next few weeks. Each acre contains six tonnes of daffodils
Sea of colour: Over the next few weeks staff at Hollam Nursery will have their work cut out as they harvest the huge crop