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Alastair Borthwick: Journalist, Writer, Mountaineer

Alastair Borthwick was a Scottish journalist who brought the world of mountaineering and rock climbing to the working class. Born on February 17, 1913, in Rutherglen, he had a natural curiosity for the world and a friendly demeanor. Upon leaving Glasgow High School, Alastair Borthwick got hired at The Glasgow Evening Herald. At the age of 16, he was transcribing articles over the phone for the Glasgow Evening Herald, and later was promoted to an editing position at the Glasgow Weekly Herald.

It was his work on the paper’s “Open Air” section that sparked a lifelong love of hillwalking. The sport of rock climbing and hiking was something only the upper class would do at the time. Alastair Borthwick’s book “Always A Little Further” changed that mindset. The book was published in 1939, and was the collected works of his articles written for “Open Air.” The book was a hard sell to publishers who deemed it too risky; luckily, T.S. Eliot saw the value and importance of Alastair’s worked and pushed for its publication.

Alastair Borthwick spent a brief time in London working for The Daily Mirror, but the big city life was not for him. In 1936, he returned to Glasgow to work in broadcasting for the BBC. He had a natural talent for broadcasting on television and radio and would continue to do it throughout his career. His work experience included television scriptwriting and managing the Press Club at the Empire Exhibition in 1938.

The broadcaster and writer had the opportunity for real adventure when he joined the Seaforth Highlanders to fight in World War II. Alastair was an officer, and his job was as an intelligence officer. The war took him all over Europe including Italy, Belgium, France, Holland, and farther out to North Africa. He had many narrow escapes while serving as an intelligence officer, and was able to write about it later. His book “Sans Peur, The History of the 5th (Caithness and Sutherland) Battalion, the Seaforth Highlanders” is a history of his battalion and was first published in 1946. Grab your copy of Life Among the Scots by Alastair Borthwick.

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