Alastair Borthwick, the Renowned Author of “Always a Little Further”

Alastair Borthwick was born in February 1913 and died in September 2003. He was a renowned broadcaster, journalist, and author. He has authored the all-time classic, “Always a Little Further,” which explores the outdoor activities, especially rock climbing and mountaineering in the then Glaswegian social history. Today, the book still enjoys a cult-like following.

Born in Rutherglen, Alastair Borthwick grew up in Troon before he relocated to Glasgow. He would later attend Glasgow High School, where he left at the age of sixteen. Upon leaving school, he secured employment with the Glasgow Herald in 1929. His first duties include taking telephone messages from the reports in the field and then putting the notes down on paper. After a short while, Alastair became an editor of the feature pages of the Glasgow Herald. He was eventually assigned the Alastair “Open Air” page of the paper, which aroused his interest in the blossoming climbing scenes and hill walking activities of the affluent class of Glasgow.

To collect enough entertaining materials for the “Open Air” page articles, Alastair Borthwick ventured out into the hillsides and rocky sceneries of Glasgow. During the weekends, he accompanied the mountaineering groups of men and women who slept in caves or under rocks, lived rough, and hitched to their goals even though they had little or no money. They believed that they owned the Scottish mountainsides and sought to enjoy them to the fullest. Alastair Borthwick made acquaintances with berry pickers, tramps, and other outdoor folks, who found fun in makeshift equipment and youth hostels.

It, therefore, should not come as a surprise that “Always a Little Further” has such an unconventional approach towards mountaineering and rock-climbing as compared to the other stories during that age. The story heralded a revolution in the perception that the activity was a preserve for the well off in the society. The publishers were initially unsure on whether to publish the story or not. It was through the insistence of T.S. Eliot, one of the directors at Fabers, that the story was finally released.

After the end of the Second World War, Alastair Borthwick relocated from Glasgow to Jura, where he did broadcasting for the BBC. In 1952, he moved into producing for television at Grampian TV, before moving to Ayrshire. He died at Beith in 2003.

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