Alastair Borthwick, born in 1913, became a writer when he was just 16 years old. Living in Glasgow, Scotland, he wrote for a small local paper. He became increasingly popular as he covered a grass-roots movement that regular people in Clydebank and Glasgow were taking up, climbing and mountaineering.
That unemployed and working-class people were out climbing hills and mountains suddenly in great numbers sounds a bit ridiculous and it sort of was in a way. It was also a practical way for them to be entertained, though, as they didn’t have money to spare and climbing a hill is free to do. They would hitchhike on lorries to the West Highlands area, set up a camp, and get to climbing.
It was pretty chaotic and there were all sorts of amusing stories for Alastair Borthwick to relay to his readers which he did with enthusiasm and an eye for the absurd. As per undiscoveredscotland.co.uk, he ended up collecting his stories together and publishing his first book, Always a Little Further, in 1939. It was an instant classic and has avid readers even now, 80 years later.
He was interviewed in 1934 by the BBC. He told Producer James Fergusson that he had been climbing mountains the prior weekend which Fergusson found very intriguing. Fergusson commissioned a 15-minute radio interview with Alastair Borthwick about this topic and he showed that he was a natural on the microphone. He was hired by the BBC as a radio correspondent soon after.
He served in World War 2 as an intelligence officer. Serving in the 5th Seaforth Highlanders, he saw more action than most other soldiers did. He was in the battle for Sicily, invaded Italy, and fought on German soil. Alastair Borthwick was commissioned to write his second book about his battalion and experiences which became a best-seller and is regarded as one of the best books about the war, seen from the eyes of the average soldier.
He had married in 1940 and they had one son. Alastair Borthwick outlived his wife, Anne, by a few months and died toward the end of 2003.