Missing British hitchhiker’s partner stresses investigation into her disappearance is still ON as her mother reveals ‘excruciating hell’ of not knowing what happened to her

  • Esther Dingley, 37, was walking solo in the mountains near the Spanish border
  • Mr Colegate, 38, had been with her but was house-sitting when she went missing
  • Last week, French police captain said probes in French territory had been done
  • Mr Colegate said that he will return to the area to repeat the intensive searches

The partner of a British hiker who went missing in the Pyrenees has said the probe into her disappearance is continuing despite reports police had stopped searching.

Esther Dingley, 37, had been walking solo in the mountains near the Spanish and French border and was last seen on November 22.

Daniel Colegate said on Sunday: ‘Regarding recent media coverage and comments by a member of the French police, my response is to restate my gratitude and respect for the hard work the police forces and the search and rescue teams in both France and Spain have already carried out and plan to continue with in the future.

‘I have been in close contact with the lead investigator in both countries since early December.

‘Upon reading the recent articles, I contacted the major in the French police who is in charge of the investigation to ask if these comments reflect the official position of his team. His response was to reassure me that the investigation is ongoing.

‘As I’ve said before, I’m aware of the challenges the police face in this investigation and I trust their abilities and determination.’

The partner of a British hiker who went missing in the Pyrenees has said the probe into her disappearance is continuing despite reports police had stopped searching

Esther Dingley (pictured with her boyfriend Daniel Colegate) disappeared on November 22 while solo hiking in the Pyrenees mountains

Mr Colegate, 38, had been hiking with Ms Dingley but was house-sitting at a French farmhouse on November 22.

Last week, French police captain Jean Marc Bordinaro told The Times ‘all possible investigations’ in French territory have been carried out ‘without any result’.

He said: ‘We have no indication permitting us to confirm the presence of Esther Dingley in France since she was seen for the last time on the Spanish side of the Pic de Sauvegarde.

‘We’ll probably have to wait till spring to undertake more searches.’

Mr Colegate said he intends to return to the area to repeat the intensive searches already carried out as soon as the weather permits.

Mr Colegate and Ms Dingley are pictured beside their camper van. He said he cannot believe an experienced and hardy hiker such as her could have had an accident as the terrain and weather were favourable

He said: ‘I want to reiterate that Esther is an experienced hiker who was carrying suitable equipment in terrain that would not have been a challenge to her.

‘She had completed countless similar hikes successfully in the past, never leaving trails and being well aware of her body’s needs and limitations.

‘If she suffered an accident, for whatever reason, I firmly believe she would have been found on or close to one of the extensive, well-made paths in the area.

‘The fact no trace at all was found, despite a wide-ranging and intensive search in good weather before the snow arrived, was frustrating and baffling to those involved in the search at the time.

‘That no other signs have been found elsewhere does not change the scope or intensity of that search.

‘At the moment, those of us who love Esther can only continue with the agonising wait for news.’

The couple, who have been together for almost 19 years, met at Oxford University and lived in Durham before they set off travelling around Europe in a camper van six years ago.

Ms Dingley’s mother Ria Bryant said on Sunday: ‘Each day has been nothing short of an excruciating hell for me, balancing on the edge of breaking down.

‘Not knowing where Esther is or what has happened to her is destroying me and our family, as life seems almost impossible to cope with.

‘Esther’s mission in life is to spread love and happiness, but now I am numb and scared that I will never feel those emotions again.’

Anyone with information is asked to contact the LBT Global hotline on +44 (0) 800 098 8485 or via WhatsApp on +44 (0) 7545 826 497, or through [email protected]

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