By CHRIS PARSONS
Braving sub-zero temperatures, Tom Nelson, 27, leads fellow mountain biker John Weeks, 25, along an icy path at the end of Rushup Edge, above Edale in the Peak District, Derbyshire
Britain is bracing itself for yet more cold weather as Arctic winds knock temperatures lower than those currently being experienced in the South Pole.
Temperatures are expected to plunge to as low as -10C in sheltered parts to the west of the country, four degrees lower than at McMurdo, the U.S. research centre in Antarctica, where the mercury is at -6C at night and -3C in the day.
Health chiefs have also started warning that as a result of the freezing conditions, more than 1,500 people a week could be killed by the weather.
Deer prepare for a cold night at the Chestnut Centre Conservation and Wildlife park in the Peak District, near Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire
The Department of Health's Chief Medical Officer said that around 1,560 people, many elderly, would die due to cold weather each week between now and March in normal winter weather. That figure will rise 'substantially', however, due to extreme cold like that we are currently experiencing.
During last year's big freeze, the death rate in England and Wales shot up by 21 per cent from 9,220 a week to 11,193.
Getting there: A Post Office van makes its way along the roads of Exmoor, Somerset, despite the heavy snowfall that the area has experienced
Dame Sally Davies said: 'Mortality rises by 19 per cent in winter months in England, amounting to 27,000 excess deaths or 1,560 more people per week compared with the rest of the year. And very severe weather can substantially add to this death toll.
'The majority of UK deaths are among older people, especially women, and those with underlying health problems - but they are not people who would have died anyhow at that time.'
A dark brown Exmoor pony stands out in contrast to the white snow as it forages for food with another horse
To help deal with the extreme cold, the Army has been put on standby. Around four inches of snow and ice could cover part of the country after a high pressure system hanging over Scandinavia which is pushing raw winds towards the UK.
Cold Weather Watch has now upgraded its severe weather warning to a level three, after stating that there was a 100 per cent probability of 'severe' conditions across most of England this week. With severe weather warnings already in place and chaos on the roads, the military have been put on standby should there be a level four 'major cold weather incident'.
Three-year-old Violet Hibberd (left) made the most of the snow and a sled-pulling parent as she went sledging in North Devon earlier today while a car travels through a magical scene, amid snow-laden trees in Simonsbath, Somerset
A couple walk their dog up Dunkery Hill on Exmoor as blue skies break through the snow clouds above them
A van gets stuck in the snow after slipping on an icy road up Dunkery Hill in Exeter
A cyclist makes his way home through the snow in Merthyr Tydfil, south Wales
The beacon at the top of Dunkery Hill makes for a chilly scene as temperatures fall lower than at the South Pole this week
A car struggles up a treacherous mountain road that connects Abergwynfi and Treorchy in Wales
Heavy snow and a severe cold snap have killed at least 36 people across eastern Europe. Poland, Serbia, Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic have all been hit by temperatures as low as -26C - causing schools to close, roads to be blocked and power cut.
Residents have been urged to stay indoors as local authorities open up hundreds of emergency shelters in a bid to halt the rapidly escalating death toll.
Ukraine's Emergency Situations Ministry said 18 people died of hypothermia and nearly 500 people sought medical help for frostbites and hypothermia in just three days last week. Twelve of the dead were homeless people whose bodies were discovered on the streets. Temperatures in parts of Ukraine plunged to minus -16C during the day and -23C during the night.
The rolling white hills of Somerset disappear in the distance following a heavy covering of snow
A woman appears to struggle through the snow as she reaches a drift that has formed along a footpath on Exmoor
Authorities opened 1,500 shelters to provide food and heat and shut down schools and nurseries. At least 10 people froze to death in Poland as the cold reached -26C today. Malgorzata Wozniak, a spokeswoman for Poland's Interior Ministry, said elderly people and the homeless were among the dead.
Police are now checking unheated empty buildings to corral the homeless into shelters. Until now, Poland had been having a mild winter with little snow and temperatures just below freezing.
Finding the right direction to Wheddon and Exford might not be too difficult, but following the snow-covered path might be a challenge