BOURNEMOUTH was warmer than parts of Turkey and Greece today as blue skies and warm temperatures finally returned.

The sunshine cheered Dorset residents sick of rain at the weekend, as temperatures soared to 15 degrees – higher than 10 degrees in Athens and 12 in Istanbul.

Traffic was slow through Sandford as thousands headed for the seaside at Swanage on the last day of the town’s blues festival, while even more took in the rays on Bournemouth’s beaches.

The town was the joint-hottest place in the UK on Friday, together with Northampton and Kew Gardens, with the mercury hitting a balmy 16 degrees.

And locals have been making the most of the unseasonal warmth.

Pat Waters, of Broadstone, took her two grandchildren to the beach for the first time this year.

She said: “Parking was particularly difficult today but it’s been beautiful and the children have loved it.”

Will Everitt, 32, had travelled down from his home in Salisbury with children Lily, nine, pictured inset right skimming stones on the beach, plus Anwen, six, and Poppy, three.

He said: “We drove past quite a few flooded areas to get here.

“But with the sun shining the way it has been today you quickly forget about all the wet weather we’ve had recently.”

Tim Blower, 34, travelled from Basingstoke with 21-month-old daughter Darcie for the day.

He said: “I didn't expect it to be as sunny as it is – and I certainly didn’t expect to see people sunbathing!”

But there’s more to come this week, with wall-to-wall sunshine anticipated by forecasters.

Tomorrow, anyone lucky enough to have the day off work will be able to make the most of 14 degree heat.

It’s welcome news for residents who have suffered through one of the wettest Februarys in more than 100 years.

Bournemouth Metrological Registrar Charles Thomas said the contrast of wetter than average conditions, combined with unusually sunny intervals, were greater than in any previous winter month. since January 1906.