Parts of the UK woke up to snow on the ground this morning, with forecasters warning that freezing temperatures and 70mph winds would grip many parts of the country in the next few weeks.

Britain looks set to face a cold snap which could last for two weeks as the warmer than average temperatures which the UK experienced in autumn looks set to be replaced temperatures plummeting as low as -4C.

The Met Office issued ice warnings for most of Scotland and northeast England.

The winter weather could also bring winds of up to 70mph across the west coast. Travel was expected to be disrupted and the Met Office warned of minor damage to buildings and trees.

Nicola Maxey, a spokeswoman, said: "Temperatures will be below the average maximum for November of 9.13C, and much of country is looking at maybe not much over 5 or 6 degrees.

"It will stay cold, particularly in the southeast, with frost widespread. This generally settled but cold weather with frost patches takes us through to 3 December."

A minimum temperature of -6.5 °C was recorded at Benson in Oxfordshire overnight Tuesday/Wednesday, and cities in northwest England were warned to expect temperatures plummet to -4C by the end of the week.

Alexi Boothman, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said Scotland was the only place likely to see any substantial settling snow.

He said: "There is potential for getting quite a lot of snow where the ski resorts are but generally we are looking at wintry showers rather than heavy snow coming through.

"On high ground and mountains and hills like the Cairngorms we are looking at the potential for 3-4cm, possibly even 5cm of snow.

"There will be really quite strong winds in the north, with wintry showers across central and northern England, turning into rain.

"We are looking at wintry, breezy conditions that are not very nice, but snow is unlikely to settle in England and conditions by the end of the week will be drier with lighter winds."