Alastair Borthwick was a prominent Scottish journalist and author in the early 1940s, remembered for his books “Always a Little Further” and “Sans Peur”, both highly influential publications in entirely separate fields of work.
He was born in the February of 1913 in Rutherglen, Scotland, and he moved twice before settling in Glasgow for a great many years. He started his work in the field of journalism when he was only 16 with the Glasgow Herald, which also laid the masonry for his eventual involvement in the rock-climbing and hiking scene. His book, “Always a Little Further”, which he published in 1939 at the age of 26, featured a collection of articles that he had initially worked on for the newspaper about hiking culture in Scotland.
Though many were skeptical of the book’s laid-back attitude about what had been traditionally regarded as a higher-class activity, it proved to be one of the most influential novels ever written in the field of hiking and camping in Scotland.
Not long after this book was published, Alastair Borthwick left his comfortable editorial job when he was commissioned into the 5th Batallion (the Seaforth Highlanders) as an Intelligence Officer. He saw a long tour of duty throughout the length of World War Two, advancing through the ranks before finally becoming a Captain. He documented his experiences throughout this time in the 1946 book “Sans Peur, The History of the 5th (Caithness and Sutherland) Battalion, the Seaforth Highlanders”. This book, too, became widely known for it’s evocative retelling of the military history through the eyes of a junior officer, a bold new move.
Alastair Borthwick shifted focus after the war into broadcasting, moving with his wife Anne to Jura instead of Glasgow. He moved back shortly afterwards, and stayed there working on many television and radio programs until his retirement and subsequent relocation to Ayrshire in the 1970s. There he lived a simple life on a hill farm until he passed away in 2003.