Missing British hiker's life is 'not as idyllic as social media suggests'

Investigators have said the life at home of missing British hiker Esther Dingley ‘was not as idyllic as social media suggested’.

The 37-year-old fitness enthusiast has not been seen since November 22, after heading off for a hike by herself from Spain into France.

She was reported missing by her partner Dan Colegate, 38, after failing to return from her journey from Port de la Glere to the Port de Venasque, along the border of both countries.

CCTV footage shows Miss Dingley in a supermarket in Benasque, in the Spanish Pyrenees, with one shopper saying she looked ‘sad and thoughtful’.

The clip was released after French investigating officer Capitaine Bordinaro said the couple’s life was ‘not as idyllic as the images posted on social media suggest’.

He told MailOnline: ‘We want to investigate all possibilities. We do not rule any line of inquiry.

‘But it does not seem probable that Esther suffered an accident, and it is not credible that she was eaten by a bear or that she has fallen into a lake.

‘We believe that her disappearance is either the result of a voluntary act, or as a result of someone else’s actions.’

Explaining how police went to interview Mr Colegate and go through his messages and s with him, Bordinaro said: ‘It appears that their lives together were not as happy as the images posted on social media suggest.’

However, the investigator stressed that the Oxford graduate, from Durham, was interviewed as a witness and not a suspect.

It is thought Miss Dingley was last seen by Spanish Olympic skier Marti Vigo del Arco, who crossed paths with her as he was hiking down a mountain trail with his girlfriend on November 22.

He told Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia the hiker was ‘was very heavily loaded with a very big backpack’.

Mr del Arco added: ‘She asked us if we had a piece of fruit or something fresh, but we didn’t have anything. She carried on up.’

About one hour after the encounter, Esther reached the summit of the mountain, and sent her boyfriend a selfie of her smiling, showing clear skies and the mountains reflected in her sunglasses.

That was the last time Mr Colegate heard from Esther, and he reported her missing three days later when she didn’t show up at an event he was at in Gascony, southwestern France.

Rescuers had to halt searches on Friday due to heavy snowfall, which they fear may cover traces she left behind.

Her aunt, Elizabeth Wolsey Morgan, say fears are growing that she may have been kidnapped.

It comes after Spanish police said they have failed to track down an unknown ‘fellow hiker’ who gave Miss Dingley a lift three days before her disappearance.

On November 19, Esther posted on Facebook about meeting a trekker with a vehicle, writing: ‘It was the first time I’d seen anyone else for almost two days and as this kind fellow hiker took some photos the weather blew in.’

Elizabeth, 68, said: ‘She’s a strong girl and the thing is, the longer it goes on, you wonder has she been kidnapped?

‘If she had an accident they would have probably found her. I feel like I’m living a nightmare. Her father Henry is broken. She’s his only daughter. He’s in pieces.’

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