MISSING BRIT Esther Dingley, who disappeared while hiking in the Pyrenees, received a lift from a fellow hiker three days before vanishing according to a Facebook post.
The Durham native has not been heard from since she sent her partner a selfie atop a Pyraneean mountain on the 22nd of November. The 37-year old had been on a solo hiking trip along the Franco-Spanish border between Port de la Glere and Port de Venasque, but a Facebook post she wrote on the 19th reveals that she changed her original route.
‘I had the option of staying in a great cabin’, she wrote, ‘or going down with my fellow hiker and getting a lift’. Police are reportedly very interested in talking to this mystery man, who may have information about Dingley’s change of hiking plans. She wrote that ‘He’d take me further up the valley so I could continue my planned tour to another refuge or back up the mountain’. She was dropped off at Benasque, Spain, where police found her campervan.
Dingley’s partner Dan Colegate, with whom she’s been travelling across Europe since 2014, said on Facebook that police are now assessing the possibility that her disappearance was ‘beyond an accident’. She has been declared an official national missing person by Spain, and her case is being investigated by a specialist French police unit. Colegate wrote that it has become the ‘prevailing opinion’ that ‘perhaps Esther might not be up there and this was the reason they couldn’t find her’. Authorities have been combing the mountainous hiking routes with dogs, drones, and helicopters for days.
‘If she had fallen from one of the paths,’ Dan wrote, ‘they really would have expected to find her given the intensity’ of the police search. He also highlighted the fact that Dingley was an accomplished and experienced hiker, and that ‘most of the trails are really quite straightforward across open ground’. The couple has been touring the continent in their campervan since Colegate almost died of serious illness back in the UK six years ago.
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