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router will ping, but cannot access config or internet

Got a bit of an odd one. We hve a client on an external site (a couple of hundred miles away and I really don't want to have to make the trip on Christmas Eve if I can avoid it...) with an internet access issue.
I suspect their router may be on it's last legs as it's been needing rebooted a few times recently after their VPN dropped.

Today though they've lost everything, can't get any connection to the internet etc. Rebooted the router and I can't access it through its external IP.

They can Ping the router using its internal address... but can't access it's configuration. That's what's bothering me. The router is evidently on the network and responding to ping, but times out every time they try and access it through its web interface. If it wasn't responding at all I'd  (after crying for a bit) have to admit defeat and agree it's dead, but that ping gives me a glimmer of hope that no doubt someone will soon squash.

Anyone feel like giving me the bad news?
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Any chance the staff at the remote site could get a console cable on the router?
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Though I thought console cables were specific to cisco routers? This is a draytrek 2820, and checking a spare we have here doesn't appear to have a console port, just standard ethernet (and I thought the whole point of console cables was that they're serial and won't work through standard ethernet).

Or am I completly wrong there..?
to expand on the 'unlikely' the only tech savvy person on site flew off to Australia this morning... everyone left is more the 'press the big button on the front to turn it on' type. Trying to explain different cables to them could be tricky (may actually be faster to drive the 200 miles :P)
Sorry incorrecty assumed it was a Cisco. Can you ping the router with no packet loss on large packets

ping routerIP -t -l 20000
Bizarrely... Their internet has now come back on, and they can now access the config screen. Not been rebooted since the 3rd attempt, no line errors according to the ISP...

So in summary...

Internet went down
Router rebooted
Internet still down
Router responds to ping but cannot be accessed via ethernet.
Everything decides to start working again with no further interaction from anyone.

I am comlpetely baffled as to what might have caused this and concerned that the same may happen again.
All suggestions gratefully received
If the router's interface can't be reached/accessed, a change in the configuration might have been made to disable this web-based interface.

If this is the case, a hardware reset should place it's original configuration back, but a disadvantage of this is that a re-configuration of the IPs is needed; and other settings.

Good luck!  
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Is the firmware up to date on the Draytrek?
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Nice thought... but once their internet came back we could get back onto the web interface using both local and external ip addresses.

Good thought... probably not. I'll double check that
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I have done this before with some clients I have worked with. Make sure if you do reset the router to upgrade the firmware to the current version.
it could have been an issue on the ISP side.  Did you check with their ISP to make sure they didn't have an unexpected outage in that area?
Here is one possible thing that could have happened - someone could have introduced a another device on the network with the same local IP as your router. It is Christmas time so don't be surprised if someone got a cool present which could be a device with routing capabilities and plugged it in....and just it happened to have the same IP as your router.  If your router's LAN ip was changed from its default, then my comment is completely irrelevant otherwise I would say that I never leave anything I setup with its default IP.
thanks for the suggestions.

the firmware was the latest version, the IP has been changed from the default, and the ISP deny anything was wrong their end (which I'm tending to believe as they should still have been able to access the router's config locally if it was an ISP issue.

We have programmed up another router to be sent to site as they have been rebooting this one pretty much on a daily basis for the past week or so.

The plan at the moment is to get the one behaving oddly mailed back to us when they receive the new one so we can test to destruction and try and work out what the hell went wrong. Not til the new year though as I intend to now go have 2 weeks of doing sweet nothing :)