Great Britain

Partner of missing UK hiker to continue search 'until sun goes down'

The partner of the missing British hiker Esther Dingley has said he will keep searching for her until “the sun goes down” as gendarmes said they would scale down the operation.

Dan Colegate said there was still no sign of Dingley, 37, despite extensive searches on both sides of the France-Spain border in the Pyrenees.

The pair, from Durham, had been travelling around Europe since 2014 and she was expected to return from a solo trek from the Porte de la Glere to the Port de Venasque on Wednesday.

Dingley last messaged Colegate, her partner of 18 years, on 22 November, to share a picture of herself on top of Pic de Sauvegarde via WhatsApp.

In a Facebook post on the couple’s travelling blog, he said: “I just wanted to write a short thank you for all of the support and messages that have arrived in the past few days.

“As of now there is still no sign of Esther anywhere in the area she was intending to explore, despite extensive searching from both sides of the border.

“I’m going to do some more walking myself now before the sun goes down.”

French authorities said six search teams had been out looking for Dingley, but on Monday, mountain gendarmes told the Guardian that forecasts of rain and snowfall over the next two days could force them to wind down the search operation.

The couple had started to travel after Colegate nearly died from an infection and had been documenting their adventures online over the last six years.

Before Dingley went missing, they wrote on their joint Facebook page: “Since then we’ve thru-hiked in the Alps many times, crashed a hot air balloon by the Nile, been free-diving in the Mediterranean Sea, adopted a dog who surprised us by being pregnant, and completely changed the way we view the beautiful world we all share.”

Dingley had been travelling in the couple’s camper van during her solo trek, while Colegate stayed at a farm in the Gascony area of France.

Colegate said she had begun walking from Benasque in Spain on Saturday and had planned to spend Sunday night at Refuge de Venasque in France.

He has since travelled to the Luchon area of France to join the efforts to look for Dingley. He told the BBC that she had been away for a month and their last conversation had been about “how excited we were to see each other as this was her last trip before driving back”.

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