Line Of Duty’s Martin Compston explores the dramatic landscapes of his native Scotland on a TV road trip
Greenock, on the west coast of Scotland, is where actor Martin Compston comes home. It’s where he grew up, where he lives with his family for most of the year and where he invited his fellow Line Of Duty colleagues to experience for themselves the allure of this former fishing port about 40 miles northwest of Glasgow.
In the ten years since Martin starred in the BBC TV crime drama and played the part of DI Steve Arnott in the anti-corruption unit AC-12, he grew close to the cast and wanted them to experience his Scotland.
He beams with pride when he thinks back to the scene. AC-12 came to Greenock and I was able to take Vicky McClure to the place where you can see for miles, and it was great to see her say, ‘Aah, now I get it.’ It’s a beautiful place.’
Duty is calling: Martin Compston (left) and Phil MacHugh (right) in Greenock at the end of their road trip across Scotland for new travel show Scottish Fling
Martin and Phil go coasteering (a form of rock shopping along the coastline) on the Knoydart Peninsula (pictured) in the show
Adrenaline junkie Martin got a ‘real buzz’ from coasteering
Greenock is also the last stop for Martin and fellow presenter Phil MacHugh on their BBC 2 travel program Scottish Fling, a 19-day 1000 mile love letter to their country and relatives.
The lifelong friends go on a road trip to discover ‘what drives our nation today’, eventually trying land sailing instead of golfing in St Andrews, and coasteering (a form of rock shopping along the coastline) on the Knoydart Peninsula, where adrenaline junkie Martin has a gives real buzz.
“I’ve enjoyed my time in New York and Los Angeles, and my wife is from Vegas, but when you get older and have family, it means a lot to be close to your friends,” Martin says.
“I loved growing up in Greenock. It has a very rich history and it is unbeatable in the sun, although it rains a lot… We end the series in a very special place, overlooking the sea where my friends and I would hang out as teenagers with this incredible backdrop. But it’s only now that I appreciate it and I feel very emotional about it. On this journey we show who we really are.’
Greenock prospered in the last century with a thriving shipbuilding industry, but the harbor is now a hub for cruise ships.
“Tourism is Greenock’s main industry,” adds Phil. “You see cruise passengers all coming ashore for excursions to Loch Lomond or to play golf.”
Phil reveals cruise passengers often come ashore in Greenock for excursions to Loch Lomond (above)
“I loved growing up in Greenock. It has a very rich history and it is unbeatable in the sun, although it rains a lot,” says Martin
Martin as DI Steve Arnott in Line of Duty, with co-stars Vicky McClure (left) and Adrian Dunbar (right)
In Scottish Fling, the pair storm from coast to coast through the highlands and islands to show Scotland as a modern, relevant and fun place to visit – not the two-tier Victorian concept with pipers and tartan as its legacy.
We discover that Dundee is the driving force behind Minecraft, the largest video game in the world, and that Abertay University is the first to offer a degree in computer games.
But it’s the spectacular landscapes that sometimes let these two chatty guys do the talking.
“It’s an exciting place to explore,” Phil says. “We were determined to get these places on the map, to show off our communities and encourage visitors.”
The new series reveals that Dundee (pictured) is the driving force behind Minecraft, the largest video game in the world
Martin adds: ‘We spent most of the driving in an electric car, and for anyone wanting to rent one, there were more charging stations than you’d think, and the roads are much more accessible.’
The most delightful experience is that the couple dine in peace next to Loch Fyne in Inver, the only restaurant in Scotland to be awarded a Michelin green star for its environmentally sustainable practices.
The former farmer’s cottage and boat shop is now a restaurant with both style bedrooms on the property. Chef Pam Brunton and partner Rob Latimer offer a contemporary take on traditional and forgotten Scottish recipes using local wild, farmed and farmed ingredients to create dishes such as monkfish, sea and coastal cabbage and seaweed sabayon.
During the show, the couple dine in peace next to Loch Fyne in Inver, pictured, the only restaurant in Scotland to have been awarded a Michelin green star for its environmentally sustainable practices.
While Phil peels the oysters like a pro, Martin now recoils at the memory. ‘No. Oysters are not for me. I loved it when we cooked Arbroath smokies on the trip to Auchmithie Beach, but I can’t do it with bones and skin.’
Martin jumps into full animation when asked if fried Mars bars are still on the Scottish menu.
“No one I know has ever had one – I see chip shop owners laughing all the time because it’s a tourist thing, and no local EVER eats FRIED MARS BARS.” He pauses. “It feels very frustrating to think that people even believe that!”
Martin says he ‘loved’ when they got the chance to cook Arbroath smokies on Auchmithie Beach (pictured)
Point made. Phil catches the eye. “There is certainly an increase in farm-to-table dining, even in cities like Edinburgh. I would recommend visitors give Tom Kitchin a try – he is phenomenal, a pioneer of new Scottish dining.
‘Located on Leith’s waterfront, The Kitchin has a Michelin star and is all about contemporary Scottish cuisine.
“Tom is unpretentious and celebrates good food, so for a Sunday gastropub try The Scran And Scallie or The Bonnie Badger, his restaurant with rooms in Gullane, where they offer a very bouji BBQ menu in the summer months.”
Phil recommends travelers head to The Bonnie Badger, a restaurant with rooms in Gullane. It is run by Tom Kitchin, who he describes as ‘a pioneer of the new Scottish dining’
In the summer months, The Bonnie Badger offers a ‘very bouji BBQ menu’, according to Phil. Upstairs is a guest room in the inn
Fresh oysters at The Bonnie Badger
Martin, who is currently filming in Glasgow, says the area is thriving, adding: ‘There are fantastic restaurants that weren’t there 20 years ago, and they are all independent, all Scottish owners.
“Chateau-X, run by young Scottish chef Nico Simeone, is where I’ve eaten one of the best steaks ever.”
Phil says, “It reminds me how much there is to discover on your own doorstep. I’m in Edinburgh and had no idea what the Beltane Fire Festival on Calton Hill was about, but it’s a pagan ritual inspired by Beltane’s ancient Gaelic festival to celebrate the start of summer.
“It’s huge, with 10,000 people. It’s a great event.’
Martin nods. “I fell in love with Scotland again,” he says. “It’s the people.”
Line of Fire: The Beltane Fire Festival in Edinburgh is a pagan ritual inspired by the ancient Gaelic festival of Beltane to celebrate the start of summer. “It’s a great event,” says Phil