My parents arrived first, and whilst we were getting the boys ready, my brother arrived. We set off up onto the moors. The boys wrapped up well, as the wind today was both strong and bitterly cold. Hats, scarves and gloves worn by all, though Worm's didn't stay on for long!
As we walked through the gate that leads to the moor, the boys and the dogs ran on ahead. They headed off to the swinging tree and started to climb.
As the adults caught up, I noticed a child walking towards us, with no adults in sight. As he got closer I recognised him as a friend of Beanie's, (Hamster) a boy who he had gone to nursery and school with, but who had left at the end of year one. His parents had wanted to move into Plymouth, had changed the children's schools but two years later their house remains unsold. We know him well, and Beanie and he spoke before he carried on and Beanie caught back up with us. I knew his parents wouldn't be far away, and Beanie said he was playing and that he had been running up and back. I thought nothing more of it.
As we continued up the hill, I could hear shouting, and quickly realised it was Hamster's parents calling him. I walked up to his mum and told them that we had seen him back towards our gate. She shouted to her eldest son who walked off towards his dad and they all started walking down the hill looking for Hamster.
We continued our walk to the top of the hill. We reached the top, and turned around quickly, the cold wind just too cold to stay and admire the view.
As we started back, Hamster's dad was coming towards us. With no Hamster. They had looked everywhere. We told them we would walk back the long way round looking for him.
Me and my three went one way, my parents and brother another, shouting for Hamster.
When we met back at our gate, I gave my three to my parents to take home, and me and the dog walked the moor again. By this time everyone on the down was looking for him, and daylight was fading. As I walked back, I could hear Hamster's brothers shouting for him. I met them half way and told them I could hear them from the other side of the down. If Hamster was there he would have heard us. I walked the loop again.
His parents had waited at the top of the down, in the hope that he would realise he had to go back that way, unless he had gone through a gate and walked home. Would he do that at the age of 8, having to cross the main road? We thought not.
When I reached the top of the moor I could not see his parents. The light was fading fast and by the time I had got back to the gate I was struggling to see.
I had to go home.
I would phone his parents to see if he had turned up.
As I walked down our street a car pulled up outside of my house.
His dad and brothers in the car.
And yes this eight year old, playing hide and seek with his two brothers and sister, had indeed, walked home. Not across the moor, but through the town. He had walked down one of the roads/lanes and crossed a very dangerous main road at the bottom, before walking nearly a mile along that main road to his house.
I am so glad he was safe, but cannot imagine Beanie wandering off like that and just going home. For Beanie it would be easy we live a 30 second walk from the moor, but it does scare me at how street wise some 8 year olds are, and how scared Beanie would be if anything like that happened to him. He would panic, I know he would.
For Hamster, it would seem, it was just another walk!