FAMILIES in Gwent enjoyed a taste of the continent today as soaring temperatures overtook those in Tenerife on the hottest day of the year so far.

Top temperatures recorded were 27 degrees Celsius, just over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, in Ebbw Vale with an average of 25 degrees Celsius, 77 degrees Fahrenheit, elsewhere in Gwent as ice cream sales boomed.

Jonathan Powell, from Principality Weather, said: “The sun is at its strongest possible for the year. It is searing and is really quite dangerous.”

Parks and activity centres across Gwent noticed a boom in business while Cwmbran boating lake was absolutely heaving with the overflow car park in use.

Councillor John Cunningham, executive member for neighbourhoods at Torfaen Council, said: “It is the perfect place to spend a hot summer’s day – there are pedal boats if you enjoy being out on the water, a fantastic playground for children, and plenty of shady areas to sit.”

Steve Kivell, duty manager at Parc Bryn Bach near Tredegar, said “In years when the weather is rainy the numbers of people coming to the park is not a quarter as good as they are now.”

Yesterday’s UV rating stood at its maximum of seven which means just 20 minutes in the sun between 1pm and 5pm was enough to damage the skin.

For those hoping to enjoy some cooler areas, Mr Powell said: “As far as the coolest place goes, the heat is pretty evenly spread. It will feel cooler with a light breeze by any river or by the coast but it’s deceptive as the sun can still be dangerous.”

34-year-old Ursula Martin has been walking through Gwent as part of a 3,000 walk across Wales and said the heat makes the walk very hard-going.

Ice-cream sellers like Hapus Ice Cream in Machen saw high numbers of families popping in for a cone.

Mark Sidoli, owner of Sidoli’s ice cream parlour in Ebbw Vale, said: “On a day like today we will sell up to 4,500 litres of ice cream but may only sell half that amount on a rainy day.”