Drivers were stranded for 12 and a half hours, a bus carrying 26 school children was rescued and hundreds of cars were abandoned on Thursday night as heavy snow hit Cornwall.

Six inches of snow reportedly fell in 45 minutes, causing travel disruption on the A30 and A39 near Bodmin, Cornwall.

A school bus which became stuck on the A39 was rescued by local police and fire brigade crews, who ferried the children to safety in 4x4s.

The bus, carrying children from St Merryn Primary, had been stuck for more than five hours after the heavy snowfall “caught us all out”, according to a statement on the school’s website.

Ian Thurtle, of Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, took part in the rescue and said the children were “fine” but were “starting to get cold and hungry and bored, and it was dark”.

He said the group of 26 children, who he estimated to be aged between nine and 10, had been stuck for hours when their teacher made the decision it was no longer safe to remain on the bus.

Mr Thurtle said: “Their teacher was really in control of everything … I think she was right (to remove them from the bus) because … that traffic didn’t clear until about 11 o’clock at night.”

Their teacher called the Retallack Resort, a spa and hotel located just a few miles from where the bus was stranded, and asked if they could receive the party.

Jo Hope, guest experience manager at the Retallack, said it was “absolutely no problem” to help out and her staff “sprang into action”.

Mr Thurtle said they began ferrying the children by 4x4s provided by the fire brigade and volunteer parents who had come to help.

Ms Hope said they put on homemade pizzas for the children, who were “hungry and quite hyper” when they arrived.

The resort also offered accommodation free of charge but some parents were able to take their children, and those who lived close by, home.

The whole party had left by 8pm, Ms Hope said.

The children were “pretty excited” about the whole experience, Mr Thurtle said.

“They’d been on a bus, it was snowing, the bus was stopped, the fire brigade were here and they were going in the little fire truck, it was a kid’s delight really,” he added.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police confirmed a school bus was rescued from the A39, located south of the A30.

Steve Instance, 44, from Porthtowan in Cornwall, who was travelling from Poole, in Dorset, became jammed in among other cars as traffic built up on the A30.

Mr Instance, a prevention manager for the RNLI, told the Press Association: “The snow just came down so quick. We just joined the back of the traffic and within a few minutes the traffic built up around me.

“I drive a great big four wheel drive but there was just no way of getting out, just jammed in then.

“The snow kept falling, there was a good six inches of snow within 45 minutes or so.

“Just completely stranded and didn’t move a single inch for nine and a half hours.”

At 2.30 am Friday morning after being stuck for 11 hours Mr Instance said the first police cars and snow ploughs appeared and began to move cars to allow the road to be cleared.

He added that hundreds of abandoned cars, which were left when people attempted to walk to safety, added to the disruption.

“What became quickly evident, there were at least 100 abandoned vehicles, probably a quarter of those would have been big lorries, they were abandoned all over the place,” he said.

Mr Instance eventually made it home at 4.30 am Friday morning after first getting stranded at 4.30 pm Thursday afternoon.

The same journey would have normally taken him 40 minutes.