An Accomplished Author & Broadcaster with a Passion for Hill Climbing, Alastair Borthwick

A writer and broadcaster, Alastair Borthwick was born in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire on February 17 in 1913. Described as a man with a lot of passion, Borthwick died on September 25, 2003. Among other things, Borthwick is remembered as a passionate author. He was also excited about climbing in Scotland’s highlands, but most importantly, people remember his ability to capture the grimness of war using the most graphic terms.

His book, Always a Little Further, which was published in 1939, clearly captures the start of the grass-roots movement by the working class and the unemployed of Clydebank and Glasgow into the Scottish Hills. By the beginning of the 1930s, a striking love for hiking and climbing was witnessed across northern Europe. This resulted in the creation of national youth hostels associations. While the sudden wave of enthusiasm for these activities initially tapped inspiration from the Wandervogel movement that was blossoming in the Weimar Republic, Germany, other factors were also to blame. One such element was mass unemployment in the shipyards of Clydebank. Besides, what would one expect from people who had a lot of time up their sleeves, very little money to spend, and mountains at their doorstep?

Writers such as J.H.B and W.H. Murray preferred capturing the activities of the mountaineering elite, besides concentrating on the climbing itself. It wasn’t the same for Alastair Borthwick. While he was more middle class than many others, Borthwick interacted and made friends with ordinary folks such as tramps and berry pickers during an era of significant social changes. He once said that his ideal life was to write 1000 words in the morning and then catch a salmon in the afternoon. This statement reveals a man who chose not to complicate life.

Alastair Borthwick also participated in the Second World War. Together with his fellow Seaforths, Borthwick traveled 3000 miles across Europe and North Africa during the battle of El Alamein. Upon defeating Rommel, they participated in conquering Sicily, invading Italy, Normandy and also in securing Holland’s Canal Zone.

While he was a simple man chasing simple goals, Borthwick always believed in going a little further in everything he did. When asked how he would want to be remembered, Alastair Borthwick said that he would want people to know that he was a journeyman writer, who never broke a deadline and was printable at any given time or place. For more information, visit: