Alastair Borthwick Was a Man For All Mediums


Alastair Borthwick (1913-2003) was born in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire. As a teenager, he would move to Glasgow where he would attend high school until the age of 16.

After leaving school Borthwick found work with the Glasgow Evening Herald. His job was to record information phoned in by field correspondents.

After the Monthly Herald Borthwick’s next employer was the Glasgow Weekly Herald. Five reporters were responsible for filling the Herald’s 28 pages. Alastair Borthwick edited and wrote five of the newspaper’s regular columns. Working on the Herald’s “Open Air” feature introduced Borthwick to rock climbing. Alpinism would become Borthwick’s passion and change is life.

A 1934 job interview with BBC radio revealed that Borthwick was a natural born broadcaster. His new vocation became even more agreeable when mention of his avocation rock climbing spawned a 15-minute program on the subject of rock climbing.

Alastair Borthwick’s “Always a Little Further” was the first book to approach the subject of hiking and rock climbing with humor and from the viewpoint of the common citizen. Published in 1939 “Always a Little Further” has been in print continuously ever since.

Originally, hiking and rock climbing were pastimes for the upper crust. Two events would change that. Wandervogel (wandering bird) a back to nature movement that started in Germany would spread through Europe. An economic downturn in Scotland created a need for cheap recreation for the working class.

Like all young men of the time, the German invasion of Poland disrupted Alastair Borthwick’s career. During the war, Borthwick would fight on battlefields across North Africa and Europe.

In 1994 a book covering Borthwick’s unit’s experiences was republished under the title “Battalion: a British infantry unit’s actions from El Alamein to the Elbe, 1942-1945”. Originally published just after the war under the title “Sans Peur” the book received critical acclaim.

After the war, Borthwick and his wife Anne who he married in 1940 moved to the Hebrides island of Jura. Borthwick returned to BBC radio. Beginning in the 1960s he scripted 150 television shows. Alastair Borthwick delivered his last radio broadcast eight years before his 2013 passing. Get in touch with Borthwick on Facebook.

Get Bortwick’s book here:


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