Alastair Borthwick: the Voice of Scotland in Peace and War

Alastair Borthwick is remembered for the contributions he made to broadcasting, television, and print. He was born in 1913 in the Scottish town of Rutherglen, just three miles from Glasgow. His journalism career started at the age of 16 when he left school to work for the Glasgow Herald. At this newspaper he would work his way up to the position of editor. Also at this newspaper, Borthwick would write articles on working-class people who engaged in hillwalking and climbing the Highlands. 

These hillwalking articles would be collected and published in the book “Always a Little Further,” in 1939. The book would mark one of Borthwick’s most enduring achievements as an author; the book is still in print today and is regarded as one of the definitive sources on outdoor Scottish activity. Interestingly, the publisher almost didn’t publish the book because of its inclusivity of common folk in an activity traditionally associated with the wealthy. It took no less than the intercession of the towering literary figure T.S. Eliot himself to get the book published. 

Borthwick served his country during World War II as an intelligence officer. From this experience he was asked to write “Sans Peur, The History of the 5th (Caithness and Sutherland) Battalion, the Seaforth Highlanders,” published in 1946. Borthwick and his unit were an active part of the war effort, deployed in many countries including Italy, France and Germany. His chronicling of these events has met with critical commendation as recently as the book’s latest reprint in 1994

Borthwick resumed his post-war career by working with the BBC. 1951 brought with it the Festival of Britain for which he would help to organize the Scottish contribution. The 1960s saw Borthwick in the role of producer for television programs at Grampian TV. His wife Anne and he would enjoy the 1970s from a hill farm in Ayrshire. Alastair Borthwick died in 2003 after a long Scottish life, leaving behind him contributions in print, radio, television and military service.