Esther Dingley’s boyfriend ‘paced up and down for days’ before finding her body

The boyfriend of British hiker Esther Dingley “paced up and down for days” before he discovered her remains in the Pyrenees.

French detectives had blamed “terrible weather ” for their failure to find Esther’s body despite numerous searches in the area.

But Esther’s partner, Daniel Colegate, 38, refused to give up and eventually discovered her remains in an area already searched by police teams.

He had been searching that area since part of Esther’s skull was found by a Spanish hiker in July.

Police believe an animal could have carried it off from the site where she died.

On Monday, after retracing her steps, Dan found her remains on “a treacherous” trail, 110 yards from where her skull was located.

Captain Jean Marc Bordinaro, head of the police in St Gaudans, said her partner was best placed to locate the skeletal remains on the 2,300 metre high peak.

“Dan had paced the area up and down, taking Esther’s abilities into account,” he told Mail online.

“He is a good hiker, a professional, and he has hiked in the Alps before.”

The police boss blamed “terrible weather” for their failed efforts to find Esther’s corpse and explained they were unable to use the drone.

“We had already searched this area this winter with a helicopter and on foot, but we had been hampered by snow, our search was unsuccessful, especially since it is very rugged terrain,” he said.

“In the past few weeks, we haven’t been back to look specifically in this area. The Spanish investigators had surveyed this sector, but on the Spanish side.

“Esther’s Dingley’s body was found at the northern slope of Pic de Gléré.

“Her skull was discovered not far from the Port of Gléré, about 100 metres from where the rest of the body was found. It is a very hilly area.

“The most probable hypothesis is that the skull was moved by an animal.”

Dan led the police to the site on Monday where they then recovered her body, her grey rucksack and a water bottle.

It is believed they have also retrieved some brightly coloured clothes and a yellow sleeping mat.

Her body is now being examined by experts in Toulouse.

Esther from Durham, vanished on a solo trek to the Pyrenees in November.

An accident has been said to be “the most likely hypothesis”.

LBT Global, a charity which is supporting Ms Dingley’s family, said her death had been most likely caused by an accident “given the location and other early indications”.

Esther and Dan, both Oxford graduates, went “adventuring together” in 2014 after a health scare prompted them to leave their jobs and start touring Europe.

Police are hoping Esther’s mobile phone, which was switched off for much of her solo walk to save batteries, could hold vital clues.

Forensic officers are also examining Esther’s £270 Redmi Note 9 Pro phone in the hope pictures saved on the memory or signals sent from the device could help police solve the mystery of her death.

Esther was seen by fellow hikers on November 22nd, the same day she sent a photo to her partner from the mountain top.

A solar panel and communications mast were reflected in her sunglasses.