Alastair Borthwick died at the age of 90 in 2003. His long life of spectacular adventure and an uncanny ability to write about it in an engaging style that captivated readers made him a living legend in his native Scotland and across Great Britain.
He was born in the small Scottish village of Rutherglen in South Lanarkshire. He spent his childhood there and later moved to Troon. He eventually found his way to Glasgow and left high school at age 16. He took an entry-level job at the Glasgow Herald – and so began the career of a man who was to become one of the most storied journalists in Scottish-British history.
At first, he wrote no stories but only wrote down copy as dictated to him by seasoned journalists. But young Alastair Borthwick demonstrated early on that he wanted a bigger role in the newspaper business and begged his superiors to let him write stories. That he did. Soon after, Borthwick began working in a section of the newspaper called “Open Air.” It was there he found his true calling.
Open Air was dedicated to stories of the outdoors. At the time. So-called “hillwalking” and climbing were generating serious interest from nature enthusiasts. Exploration of the Scottish Highlands captured the imagination of a deeply economically depressed time in 1930s-era Scotland. Exploring and hiking was great escapism. Those who could not strike out on their own adventures had the next best thing in reading Alastair Borthwick’s stories about his forays into the wilds.
Alastair Borthwick would eventually write a book about his outdoor exploits. In 1939 he published “Always a Little Bit further.” The book found a ready audience and sold well. It also became a classic over the years and is still in print today. Always A Little Bit Further is considered a landmark work in Scottish literature.
Borthwick also fought in World War II. His war experiences produced a second classic book, “Sans Peur,” also widely regarded as a remarkable achievement and a classic of Scottish letters.
Alastair Borthwick spent decades as a top broadcast journalist for the BBC which helped spread his fame and name recognition as an author and reporter.