Alastair Borthwick, Nature Writer and Broadcaster


Alastair Borthwick, a writer and broadcaster, was born on February 17, 1913. He grew up in Troon, Ayrshire. He attended high school in Glasgow where he went to live at age 11. At 16, he took a job at the Evening Times as copy taker, then went to the Glasgow Weekly Herald.

His role at the Weekly Herald included editing and producing the children’s, women’s, and film pages. His work led to the discovery of his passion for nature and rock-climbing, and to the writing of his 1939 book, Always A Little Further, seen as portraying an escape from the stress associated with city life. He moved to London in 1935 to work for the Daily Mirror but only stayed there for about a year.

He signed up for military service in WWII and rose to the rank of captain, working mostly as a battalion intelligence officer. Just prior to VE Day his colonel excused him from parades to allow him to write about the last three years of his battalion’s campaign in the war. The book he wrote was praised as a classic of the war literature genre.

After the war, Borthwick and his wife moved into a small cottage on the coast of Jura away from city living and close to nature. That was on Christmas Day 1945. They stayed there for seven years and had a son, Patrick.

Borthwick did a series, Scottish Survey, on post-war Scotland for the BBC on contract for three years. He gained the OBE for work in a presentation on heavy engineering in Glasgow in 1951. In 1952 he and his wife relocated to Islay, then back to Ayrshire in 1960. They spent the rest of their lives there.

Alastair Borthwick for many years, wrote a column weekly, for News Chronicle. From the 1960s he also wrote scripts and presented programs for Grampian TV on a variety of subjects. They included his favored 13-part series of Scottish Soldier which gave the story of the Scottish infantry from the infantryman’s perspective.

Alastair Borthwick died on September 25, 2003, at the age of 90.


Alastair Borthwick: A Great Author and a War Hero


Alastair Borthwick, born in 1913, passed on in 2003. He was a renowned journalist and broadcaster but is remembered as an outstanding author. Despite his demise, his two books, Always a Little Further, and Sans Peur remains still on print.

Born in Rutherglen, Alastair attended Glasgow High School and dropped out at 16 years to work for the Glasgow Herald. He began as a correspondent phoning in and graduated to an editor. On the open-air page, Alastair began to write on the blooming mountaineering hobby that people had taken an interest on, after massive unemployment at that time. 

In 1935, Alastair moved to work with Daily Mirror, which was a significant step in his journalism career. He was, however, not appealed with the London lifestyle. A year shortly, he went back to Glasgow to work as a radio correspondent at BBC

In 1939, Alastair publicized his first book, Always a Little Further, which was a collection of many pieces he had written for Glasgow. His publisher, Fabers was, however, unsure on Alastair’s unconventional approach on what at the time was regarded to an as a rich man’s sport. It took the insistence of T. S. Eliot one of the directors to put the book on print. It remains among the best books on outdoor activities in Scotland.

During the Second World War, Alastair joined his countrymen and was appointed as an intelligent officer in the 5th battalion, the sea forth highlanders. Seaforth Highlanders were in action in France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, North Africa, and Germany, and Alastair was involved all through. As the war ended, Borthwick was requested to write about the war, and he painted the grimness of the battalion in his second book San Peur, which was published in 1946.

After the battle, Alastair and his wife moved from Glasgow to Jura but still worked as a broadcaster for the BBC. He also loved fishing and crofting. They moved to Islay in 1952, then returned to Glasgow so Alastair could give insights to organizing Scotland’s influences to Festival of Britain in1951. Alastair died in a nursing home in 2003, which was his home in the last five years of his life. One son survives him.

The Life Of Alastair Borthwick, A Celebrated Scottish Author And Broadcaster


To this day Alastair Borthwick is considered to be a Scottish icon. He began his career when he was just 16 years old, working at the Evening Times of Glasgow as a copytaker. He soon joined the Glasgow Weekly Herald where he was a writer. He reviewed films, put together pages for women and children, answered reader’s questions, and put together the crossword puzzle.

What he became well-known for was his weekly column, Open Air. He had taken up the hobby of mountaineering and wrote about it for his readers. He says that he became addicted to this activity and climbed hills and mountains across all of Scotland. He turned this material into a book in 1939, Always a Little Further. This is considered one of the best books ever to be written in Scotland.

He became a radio broadcaster in 1934. In an era where other radio broadcasters were very stiff and formal, he was a breath of fresh air. He let his personality shine and spoke to his listeners in a friendly manner. His producer, James Fergusson, said that Alastair Borthwick had a natural way of speaking and the microphone he used was treated like an old friend.

After World War II was started he joined the Scottish armed forces. Starting out as a private, he was in the 5th Seaforth Highlanders battalion. He saw action in North Africa and in Western Europe, including in both Italy and Germany. He proved that he was no soft writer as he was willing to fight and die for his country.

His second book was published in 1946, the year after World War II was over. This was Sans Peur where he detailed the history of his battalion. He would revisit World War II often in the coming years when he became a TV broadcaster with a documentary series. He was given freedom to document what he wanted so he covered many other subjects as well up until 1994 when he retired.

Alastair Borthwick was married and they had one child. He died after his wife Anne passed away in 2002.