Alastair Borthwick: journalist and soldier

Writing a classic of its genre in a single field and to produce an entirely disparate sphere is a rare talent combination. For Alastair Borthwick who passed on at 90, this came easy. His initial literary success was Always A Little Further that was a vivid memoir of a life in the Scottish highlands. This was published in 1939. He followed it with another one, San Peur in 1946 and focused on his participation in the Second World War. Both works earned Alastair Borthwick acclaim, especially among outdoor activity enthusiasts.

Alistair Borthwick was born in Lanarkshire and bought up in Toron, Ayrshire. He moved to Glasgow at 11 years old and attended high school. Alastair left school to join Evening Times as a copy taker and later moved to Glasgow Weekly Herald. He wrote and edited women, film and children pages, and the letters to the editor. It is through the paper’s open-air page that he discovered a knack for rock climbing and what he wrote on the subject was published by Faber. This made Always A Little Further a joyful classic of outdoor literature.

Alastair went to London to work for the Daily Mirrors but left a year later. He joined BBC Radio Broadcasting, dealt with topics touching on outdoors, and had a talent for spoken word. Alastair Borthwick could produce a script that would defy anyone to know that its author was the one reading. Borthwick later joined the 51st Highland Division, 5th Seaforth Highlanders and served in the western desert, Europe and Sicily. He was promoted as a captain and in most cases worked as the intelligence officer.

Once the conflict was over, Borthwick and his wife, Ann did not return to the city but moved to Jura in a small cottage. They stayed here for seven years, and it’s the period within which their son Patrick was born. Alastair secured a three-year contract with BBC to report on post-war Scotland. He also wrote a weekly column for the News Chronicles and worked for Grampian TV in the 60s. Alastair Borthwick breathed his last on September 25, 2003.