Four-and-a-half years ago, Ben, my H and I did a 9 mile circular walk around some of Dartmoor's more challenging terrain. It was the spring bank holiday week in 2009 and already the seeds of Ben's eating disorder were beginning to germinate in his mind. The only problem was that none of us realised this was happening; not me, not my H and not Ben himself. Today we did the same walk and got talking about what was going on in Ben's head during those early days.
Ben pointed to the two Dartmoor Tors ahead - both high peaks that we knew would be a challenge to climb in today's heat. "I can't believe that, back then, I ran up both of those. And when we had lunch, I only ate a banana and a plain ham sandwich." And it was a hot day like today.
I have a photo of Ben standing perched on some rocks at the top of Longaford Tor, taken on that walk. Little did any of us know what we were about to go through - or how long it would take us to come back out of it. All I was seeing at the time was a happy, healthy 15 year old boy who was super-conditioned, preparing himself for the onslaught of preparation for school sports day: the day that Ben won the 1500 metre race, described in my book "Please eat..."
At the end of today's walk, we returned to my car which was parked at Two Bridges, taking a look at the West Dart River which was flowing crystal clear, cold and fast under the bridge.
Yes, a heck of a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since we last stopped off at that spot.