Alastair Borthwick is one of Scotland’s most famed authors. He wrote two books, one about nature and the other one about his battalion in the Second World War. Both of these books are classics and still in print today, several decades later.
Born in Rutherglen, his family growing up also lived in Troon before settling in Glasgow. He was a student at Glasgow High School but only until he was age 16 in 1929 at which point he dropped out. He got a job at the Glasgow Herald where he would write down copy from reporters calling in stories. He was promoted to an editor position.
He wrote the “Open Air” page in which he shared the new hillwalking and climbing hobby many Glasgow working-class people were sharing. They climbed hills and mountains in the Highlands on the weekends. In 1935, he started working at the Daily Mirror in London. He didn’t like that city’s lifestyle, though, and so he soon moved back to Glasgow where he was a radio broadcaster for the BBC.
“Always a Little Further” was published in 1939. This was Alastair Borthwick’s first book and was a collection of his Open Air” pages. His publisher at first didn’t want to put this book out because they regarded climbing mountains as something only rich men did. However, one of his publisher’s directors insisted the book be released. It’s been in print ever since.
His second book was written after the Second World War. This was, “Sans Peur” and it was a history of the battalion he served in, the Seaforth Highlanders. He had been an intelligence author and fought in North Africa and across Europe. This book was widely acclaimed by book critics and is also still in print.
Along with his wife and child, Alastair Borthwick settled in Jura. He was a TV broadcaster for the BBC. He produced 150 programs for Grampian TV on which he covered many topics. His last five years were spent in Beith. He lived in a nursing home and died on September 25, 2003.