The family of the young woman found dead in a burn in Inverness paid an emotional tribute to their active, ambitious girl who made friends wherever she went and left them smiling.

Charlotte Hornby (24), who was brought up on in Fortrose on the Black Isle where her parents still live, was preparing to return north to live in the Highland capital.

At approximately 5.20pm on Sunday her body was discovered by a police dog handler in the area of Island Bank Road close to the Ness Islands beauty spot where people can walk from one side of the River Ness to the other.

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She was understood to have been returning to her family's nearby flat in Dores Road in the early hours of Sunday after a night out.

Her death is being treated as unexplained and a report regarding the circumstances of the inquiry will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

Charlotte's family issued a statement through Police Scotland. It said: "Charlotte, daughter of Patricia and Harry Hornby and sister to Edward Hornby, was intelligent, outgoing and enjoyed a wide range of outdoor pursuits. She was ambitious, confident and made friends wherever she appeared.

"She was born in Macclesfield, Cheshire before moving to Fortrose with her parents in 1992. Charlotte was educated at Avoch Primary School, Fortrose Academy and subsequently graduated from St Andrews University with an MA in Geography 2:1 in 2011.

"Her sporting interests ranged through hill-walking (she ascended her first Munro - Slioch aged just 3!) cycling, skiing, climbing, running, kayaking, horse-riding and latterly squash. Her thirst for adventure knew few bounds extending to the James Bond Black Ski Run in Switzerland. Her love of music extended to playing both the piano and guitar whilst attending popular music concerts and enjoying music wherever she was."

The family said she had a wide range of friends from Fortrose, St Andrews and Aberdeen where she lived whilst employed by SSE as an Environmental Advisor. They added that wherever Charlotte went her humour, sense of adventure and kindly nature built friendships that she actively maintained.

Their statement continued: "Recently she was in the process of returning to the Highlands and was moving into a flat with her brother Edward. That exciting new stage in her life will not now be realised and her potential lost to everyone who knew and worked with her.

"In 24 years, Charlotte has lived life to the full, filling every minute with 60 seconds worth of distance run. Her family can only be consoled in the knowledge she passed suddenly having achieved so much, having left a smile on all our faces."

The family asked for privacy to allow them to grieve in peace.

As part of the ongoing appeal to establish Charlotte's last known movements, acting Chief Inspector Mark Czerniakiewicz said: "Charlotte was last seen at approximately 3.25am, when she parted company with a friend and was seen heading towards Cavell Gardens, near the war memorial. She was wearing a black leather jacket, black dress, black tights and carrying a tan coloured handbag.

"We would appeal to members of the public who were in the Ness Bank area and the Islands Bank Road area of Inverness at the time to please contact us on 101 with any information, no matter how insignificant they may consider it to be."