Alastair Borthwick was an author, broadcaster, and a journalist. He was born in Rutherglen Lanarkshire, in February 1913 and died on 25 September 2003 at Beith, Ayrshire. Borthwick went for high school education at Glasgow High School and left in 1929, aged 16. Immediately after he left school, he went to work for the Herald. While working for the Herald, Borthwick eventually became an editor of “Open Air”, a then popular feature page of the Herald.
In order to get enough and entertaining content for his feature page, Borthwick had to involve himself in hill walking and mountain climbing. As a result, he discovered Glasgow’s blossoming hillside landscape. He developed an insatiable desire for mountain climbing and hitch-hiking. It is interesting to note that most of Borthwick’s outdoor experience ended in the “Open Air” feature.
As an author, Alastair Borthwick used the materials he recorded for his newspaper feature to assemble his first novel, “Always a Little Further”. The novel has very fine details of the Glacow’s environment, a testimony that Borthwick used his own experience to write it. Initially, the novel’s publisher was skeptical about the casual manner in which the book approached mountaineering, which was then considered a sport for the rich. However, upon the advice of T.S. Eliot, Fabers agreed to publish the book. To date, the novel has remained one of the best stories about outdoor activities in Scotland.
Besides being an author and a journalist, Alastair Borthwick was also a soldier. During the Second World War, he signed up into the army as an Intelligence Officer in 5th Battalion, the Seaforth Highlanders. Borthwick fought alongside the battalion in France, Sicily, Belgium, North Africa, and Belgium. After the armistice, Borthwick wrote a detailed history of the war experiences. The result was the publication of “Sans Peur, The History of the 5th Battalion, the Seaforth Highlanders” in 1946. The book has since remained in print, and was republished in 1994 with the title, “Battalion: a British infantry unit’s actions from El Alamein to the Elbe, 1942-1945.”
After the ceasefire, Alastair Borthwick and his wife relocated to Jura in Glasgow. Here, he settled down to fishing and crafting. He also broadcast for the BBC. Later on, the family relocated to Ayrshire. In the twilight of his life, Borthwick moved to a nursing home in Beith, where he died in 2003.