Esther Dingley, 37, had been travelling the van-life along with her partner, Dan Colegate, since 2014. The couple were well known in the van-life community, regularly posting about their travels and adventures across Europe in their motorhome. Esther had left her partner in Gascony, France, whilst she embarked on a month-long solo trip in the motorhome in the French Pyrenees.
On Wednesday, Esther was reported missing after last speaking to Dan via WhatsApp last Sunday. her last message was sent whilst she was on top of Pic de Sauvegarde on the French-Spanish border. Dan told authorities how he was excited to see her on WhatsApp, as she was on the last trekking trip in the mountains before her drive back.
The previous day, Esther walked from Benasque, Spain and planned to spend Sunday night at Refuge Venasque in France. She was last seen at around 4pm last Saturday, with Dan saying there had been no sign of her since. An urgent search is now underway by the French Authorities, ‘The Peloton de Gendarmerie de Haute Montagne‘.
Esther shared her last Facebook post on Saturday, before vanishing.
Dan posted on social media:
“The only purpose of this post is to ask for prayers, thoughts, candles and whatever you have,” he wrote. “I’ve not been saying anything, but this wonderful person believes in the power of positive thought and right now I’ll take anything if it means that she can be found.
“I need her back. I can’t face the alternative. I’m heading back up searching now so I can’t reply to comments or messages. Sorry for the haste and inadequacy of these words.”
Esther and Dan have been together for the last eighteen years, spending the last six years living and travelling in the motorhome. They travel with their five dogs.
The couple, who have been together for 18 years, began travelling on the road in 2014, after Dan almost died of an infection following surgery.
They regularly posted about their adventures on their blog, Esther and Dan, and seven days ago they were featured in a BBC article discussing how they swapped their careers and a permanent home for motoring through the mountains, valleys and coastlines of Europe.
Dan has reported on social media that he has joined French police teams using helicopters and dogs in the search for Esther.
“She always tried to keep in touch but sometimes on her hikes was out of contact for a couple of days,” he said. “This is not looking good.”