Boyfriend of tragic British hiker shares their final words to each other

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Esther Dingley’s boyfriend Daniel Colegate says he hopes in time he can take comfort from his final talk with his beloved girlfriend, who was found dead after going missing in Europe’s Pyrenees

Missing hiker Esther Dingley with boyfriend Dan Colegate
Daniel Colegate spent months searching desperately for the love of his life after she went missing last November (

Image: Internet Unknown)

Hiker Esther Dingley’s boyfriend has revealed the couple’s final words to one another as he launches a fundraiser in her honour.

Daniel Colegate found his girlfriend’s body last week after a long and desperate search combing the Pyrenees.

Oxford graduate Esther, a 37-year-old solo hiker, was discovered close to where a fragment of her skull was found two weeks ago.

She had been walking in the mountains near the French and Spanish border when she went missing, and was last seen on November 22.

Early investigations suggest she may have slipped and fallen 20-30 metres from a ledge while hiking in ‘worn’ walking shoes.

Daniel Colegate shared a happy memory of Esther hiking as he launched his fundraising campaign
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Image:

GoFundme)

Mr Colegate found the rest of her remains around 100 metres from where the first bone was found.

It is thought Esther plunged down a steep boulder-strewn slope from a point near the 2,300ft summit of the Pic de la Glere.

Items from her rucksack, including her phone, were found scattered on a rocky ledge near where her remains were later found.

Mr Colegate continued a lone, exhaustive mission to find Esther after authorities paused their search.

The couple were together for 19 years and Mr Colegate described his partner as his ‘soulmate’

Official search and rescue teams had suspended the operation over the winter, citing dangerous weather conditions in difficult terrain.

Mr Colegate and Ms Dingley met at Oxford University and lived in Durham before they set off travelling around Europe in a camper van six years ago.

The couple were together for 19 years.

In a post launching a crowdfunding campaign for a cause he said would have been close to Esther’s heart, Mr Colegate shared cherished recollections of their final time together.

“It’s more than a lot of people get with a soul mate, but (selfishly) it isn’t nearly enough,” Mr Colegate wrote.

He added: “She’d already taught me so much about how to live, how to love and how to live a multicoloured life.

Esther Dingley, 37, can finally be laid to rest by her loved ones
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Image:

Facebook)

“That’s what she called our lifestyle, the beautiful, trusting, simple way that she used to squeeze in so much joy into every waking moment. I honestly believe our best years were yet to come.”

He also dwelled upon the future the couple had dreamt of.

Mr Colegate wrote: “Years ago, we promised each other that on our 70th anniversary we’d walk hand in hand on the same beach we visited on our first anniversary.

“We’d eat chips, play in the arcade again, fail to win any cuddly toys, and reflect on all of our many adventures before, hopefully, slipping away together in time – still holding hands if we could.”

Esther was an experienced hiker and would have been confident on her route, her loved ones have previously said
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Image:

Daily Mirror)

Mr Colegate shared the couple’s final words to one another before she vanished and said he hoped he could someday draw comfort from the knowledge she died instantly in her fall.

He wrote: “Knowing that Esther didn’t suffer, that she was doing what she loved and that our last words were ‘I love you’ will (perhaps), one day give more comfort than I can find today.

“I also hope I can find a way forward that honours Esther’s spirit, though I haven’t a clue yet what that looks like.”

Mr Colegate said once Esther was returned to her family, her ashes would be scattered in the places she loved.

He launched the GoFundMe campaign in her name to raise £5,000 for Sightsavers, formerly the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind.

The couple had hiked together extensively before Esther went missing on a solo hike
(

Image:

Facebook)

Mr Colegate explained: “It’s why she set up all of our social media in the first place and posted so many pictures.

“That anybody should be unable to see this amazing universe we inhabit, for entirely preventable reasons, hurt her deeply.”

Public prosecutor Christophe Amunzateguy said this week that the events leading to Esther’s death might never be known.

However, all the evidence so far gathered by his forensic teams points to an accidental death, he added.

He said he will await the results of an autopsy before making any findings public.

Authorities believe Esther may have slipped and fallen off a ledge in walking shoes worn without special spikes that she had with her.

She had been wearing a pair of worn hiking shoes, but not the traction system that she brought with her for icy conditions, Mr Amunzateguy said.

It is thought Esther was using her shoes without the spikes because weather conditions were relatively clear when she set off on her solo hike.

Mr Amunzateguy said the shoes were worn after months of use, and “clearly the soles were a bit smooth”.

  • You can donate to the fundraiser here.

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