TRIBUTES have been paid to a hospital doctor who died alongside her boyfriend in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands.

Former Newcastle University student Dr Rachel Majumdar was with a group of six friends descending Bidean Nam Bian, in Glencoe, when the snow-covered slope they were descending engulfed five of them at about 2pm on Saturday.

Dr Majumdar, who was in the second year of her training at Harrogate District Hospital, North Yorkshire, fellow Newcastle Medical School graduate Úna Finnegan, 25, and PhD students Christopher Bell, 24, and Tom Chesters, 28 died after being swept 1,000ft down the mountain.

A 24-year-old woman from the Durham area, who suffered severe head injuries in the avalanche, remained in a critical condition at Glasgow's Southern General Hospital yesterday.

The other member of the group, a man who has not been named, survived by leaping from the collapsing sheet of snow and hammering an ice axe into firmer ground.

Friends of the group said Mr Chesters and Dr Majumdar had been dating for several years and had ''such a good future together''.

Sam Morris, 35, said the only consolation in the tragedy was that the couple died side-by-side doing something they both loved.

He said: ''They were in love since they met in their first year of university. They were just so soft and sweet with each other - two people so at ease together. They were having fun making plans.

''They had dreams of doing voluntary work oversees together.

''Some of the comfort we have drawn is that these guys had been together to the end. At least they were doing what they liked doing.”

Dr Majumdar’s colleagues said she had a smile and friendly word for everyone and would remember her for her caring nature.

Dr Rebecca Leigh said: “Rachel was a gifted and dedicated doctor, who was in the middle of her training. A very promising medical career has been cut tragically short. She was one of the finest doctors I have ever worked with.”

Newcastle University doctors, who taught both Dr Majumdar and Dr Finnegan, who had been working in Edinburgh as a junior doctor, said they had been devastated to learn the pair, who shared a passion for the outdoors, had been killed.

Senior clinical lecturer Dr Richard Hardern said: "They also shared a talent for nurturing and sustaining friendship. Time spent with either was time spent well.

“They loved life and were an example. There are few photographs of them without a smile. They were well known, and much loved, by many. Their loss is felt particularly widely and deeply.