THE boyfriend of Esther Dingley found the remains of her body and belongings near the mountain pass where a skull was discovered two weeks ago.

Daniel Colegate made the grim discovery on Monday ending the search for his girlfriend who had been missing since November.

The remains of the 37-year-old were found in an area close to where a skull had been discovered by hikers on a mountain pass on the border between France and Spain.

A DNA comparison on the skull bone and a sample from Dingley’s mother confirmed that it belonged to the Oxford graduate who disappeared on November 22 during a solo hike.

Police had said her bones may have been dispersed by wild animals in the mountains.

LBT Global, an organisation that helps the families of Britons who go missing abroad and which has been supporting Colegate and Dingley’s family during the search, said it looked likely that she died accidentally.

It is “the most likely hypothesis, given the location and other early indications,” the organisation said in a statement, but urged people not to speculate and added: “A full investigation is under way to confirm the details surrounding this tragedy.”

Colegate, 38, went out to search for the remains of his partner of 20 years after the confirmation of her death last week.

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Esther Dingley was an experienced hiker. Photo: LBT Global

He had never given up the search, continuing even when police searches were called off  and racked up over 700 miles hiking the region looking for answers.

“A team of forensic specialists along with mountain rescue personnel were dispatched to the site in order to catalogue the scene and recover Esther,” the charity, LBT Global, said.

“The family remain incredibly grateful for the efforts of the police units involved and their commitment to understanding the exact circumstances of Esther’s death.”

In a joint statement confirming her death 11 days ago, Colegate and Dingley’s mother, Ria Bryant, said: “We have all known for many months that the chance we would get to hug our beloved Esther again, to feel her warm hand in ours, to see her beautiful smile and to watch the room light up again whenever she arrived was tiny, but with this confirmation that small hope has now faded. It is devastating beyond words.”

Dingley and Colegate had met while studying at Oxford and set up home in County Durham before a life threatening illness hit Colegate six years ago and led them to reassess their lives.

The pair left their jobs and began a travel adventure that saw them tour around in a campervan with a rescue dog and her six puppies, who inspired them to write five children’s books.

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