A SPANIEL that had been missing for five days was finally rescued on Sunday after she was found 30 metres (98ft) down a disused mineshaft near Ashton.

Martha, a three-year-old sprocker spaniel, went missing on Tuesday last week after escaping from a garden, but it was not until Sunday that her owners, the Salter family, realised that she was metres below the surface, next door to Balwest Chapel schoolroom.

Clare Salter said: “We had our suspicions, because she’s been down a mineshaft before. She was rescued when she was 11 months old.

“She’s such a friendly dog, she’s not one to not come back. We had huge support from the community and all our family and friends – everyone was searching for her.”

Son James, nine, even made a ‘lost’ poster at Godolphin Primary School.

Claire said that in the end, however, it was a “very, very strange turn of events” that led them to her.

As the days passed Claire and husband Richard had begun to get desperate and considered hiring a camera to look down the shafts that they felt sure she must be in.

Being late on a Saturday afternoon, however, all the companies were closed so they tried drain company Clear Flow, which also uses cameras.

It was felt the cameras, designed for narrow pipework, would not have sufficient light – but the man on the end of the phone said he would speak to his father, who capped mines for a living.

It was to be a breakthrough.

“I rang this wonderful man who I’d never heard of before and he didn’t know me, but he said, ‘I’ll come down straight away’, remembered Claire.

Not having any equipment, Pete Robinson of PRS agreed to return the next morning, which he duly did, complete with harnesses and accompanied by his wife.

In the first mineshaft he went down he spotted Martha.

It meant that the family could then contact the fire service.

The “wonderful” specialist line crews from Camborne Fire Station were called out just before 1pm, with Helston firefighters also giving support.

Crew Manager Navin was lowered into the mineshaft and pulled back up with Martha in his arms, where she was passed to her delighted owners.

Despite losing a little bit of weight through not eating for five days, Martha otherwise did not have a scratch on her – just like last time.

“Mineshaft Martha, my son calls her!” laughed Claire.

She described Mr Robinson as the family’s “hero,” adding: “There’ll just never be any way we can repay him – he’s just amazing.

“We never, ever gave up hope – it’s a miracle.”

Falmouth Packet: