Two dogs missing for four days have been rescued by the smell of cooking sausages.
Miniature schnauzers Charlie and Theo had vanished in thick fog last week when they were out for a walk in the hills with their owners’ son.
Their distraught owners Liz and Graham Hampson launched a rescue campaign and contacted mountain rescue teams, friends and family.
More than 120 people and two drones answered the call to find the stranded pooches on the Red Pike fell near Buttermere, Cumbria.
After 96 hours of searching, the family decided to barbecue their favourite bangers near the spot where they vanished and shouted the dogs’ names.
To their amazement, a short time later Charlie and Theo appeared through the trees, leading to an emotional reunion.
Liz, 49, from nearby Cockermouth, said: “When they first appeared it was like a mirage. I could not believe it was them.
“My husband ran up the hill to grab them as I was just shaking and crying. I could not function.
“The dogs are just gorgeous and they are part of our family. It would be horrible not to have them around.
“They absolutely love sausages. They have them every Sunday for breakfast, so if there was one food they were going to come back for, it was sausages.
“One of our friends had the intuition to work out roughly where they would be and we started the barbecue there. It’s like the ending of a film that it worked.
“My son is in the navy and we rang him first to tell him. A huge cheer went up on his ship.
“Charlie and Theo are actually dad and son so we’re now joking they had a Father’s Day weekend. And they’ve told us nothing about what happened. I guess what goes on tour, stays on tour.”
Liz and Graham’s son John was walking Charlie, seven, and Theo, 15 months, on top Red Pike fell on June 16.
The weather turned at lunchtime and a thick mist rolled in, causing the 21-year-old to lose sight of the dogs.
He rang his mum straight away to let her know what had happened and they immediately started to form a rescue party.
Liz said: “I was beside myself when John called. The dogs walk off lead when there is no livestock around and are used to being on the fells.
“It was a horrible phone call. We called our family and messaged friends and put out an appeal for people to look out for them on Facebook and Twitter.
“I also have a few friends who are part of mountain rescue groups so I asked if they could keep their eyes peeled if they were called out to a rescue.
“An awful lot of people responded. Groups of extended family and friends went out, and people from the local community who know the dogs.
“It was really nice, and Charlie and Theo are almost little celebrities now.”
Liz and Graham spent the first night camping on the fell and calling the dogs’ names trying to get them to come back.
They then spent the next few days hiking all around the area in hot weather trying to find them.
On Monday morning Mark Steel, a GP and member of Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team, said it was most likely the dogs were on the other side of the fell, near Gillerthwaite.
Together they hatched a plan to get the dogs back, and started barbecuing sausages.
Liz said: “It was great to see them appear through the trees. They were thin, and they smelled, but thankfully they’d kept themselves hydrated in the heat.
“We took them to the vets the next day and they were given a clean bill of health.
“We’d just like to say thank you to everyone who helped look for Charlie and Theo. It’s so nice to have them back. They are our boys.”