A Look At “Always a Little Closer”, A Classic Book By Alastair Borthwick

Alastair Borthwick was a Scottish writer and broadcaster who was born in 1913. During his time mountaineering and climbing hills was recounted in dry expedition books detailing the accounts of wealthy people. His classic book, Always a Little Further was nothing like this at all, closer to Mark Twain book. This book, published in 1939, is considered ground-breaking because it detailed the beginning of a Scottish grass-roots movement in which both unemployed people and those in the working-class started climbing the hills around both Glasgow and Clydebank.

The men and women who were part of this movement had very little money. They would hitchhike their way north to the West Highlands, an area that had been just visited by the well-to-do. They would camp in the fields at night and go climbing and hiking during the day. National youth hostel associations then started to spring up in the West Highlands which encouraged even more people to take up this hobby.

Author Alastair Borthwick caught all of this activity in a humorous fashion. As one prominent mountaineer had put it, this activity was much like if a pack of hooligans had suddenly decided to take up polo or tennis. His books infectious joie de vivre is still eminently readable even today.

He soon took up radio broadcasting. In an article from The Times, it says that this came about because he was interviewed for a radio program and showed a natural affinity with the microphone. His career was going very well but he had to put it on pause when World War 2 broke out and he joined the battle. He served from 1942 until Germany fell in 1945. His most noteworthy accomplishment was leading his battalion, the 5th Seaforth Highlanders, behind enemy lines in the pitch dark with no map. He succeeded and caught the Germans by surprise the next morning.

After the war, Alastair Borthwick returned to radio and also started a television program for which he ultimately created almost 150 episodes. This show included a look at the Scottish men and women that served in World War 2 which was an homage for him to complete.

Reference: https://medium.com/alastair-borthwick-always-a-little-further

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