When he was only 16, Alistair Borthwick dropped out of high school and began working for Glasgow, Scottland’s newspaper, The Glasgow Herald. One of the many pages he wrote for was its “Open Air” section which chronicled the trend of the common folk of Glasgow taking up hiking and mountain climbing in the neighboring highlands. In the process, he joined the trend and the pastime became a lifelong passion for him. In 1935 he moved to London to write for the Daily Mirror. However, just one year later he moved back to Glasgow and began working for BBC.
In 1939 he took his earlier long series of articles about the Scottish mountaineering movement and formed a novel based on them. The result, “Always a Little Further,” is still considered one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. The year after its publication, Borthwick married Anne Corbett. Shortly afterward he also joined the Scottish fight in World War II. He would fight with much distinction throughout the war. In its last few weeks, his superiors allowed him to sit out to write a war memoir of the last three years of the war.
The result, “Sans Peur, the History of the 5th Battalion, the Seaforth Highlanders”, is still considered one of the greatest war memoirs ever written. The year following the end of the war, Borthwick and his wife, Anne, moved to a small cottage on the remote Scottish island of Jura. During the seven years the two spent on the island, Alastair kept working for the BBC, wrote several books, and explored the abundant and beautiful surrounding nature. It was also during this time that their son Patrick was born. In 1952, they finally moved off the island, first to the neighboring and more populated island of Islay then in 1960 to South Ayrshire on the mainland where they lived until the 1990s.