Cosy seaside retreat: New Year at Sanderling in Dumfries and Galloway

Rain is lashing against the windows, wind is howling around the rooftop, but inside, gathered around the fire playing Boggle, we are lovely and toasty. Sanderling holiday cottage in Portling near Colvend in Dumfries and Galloway is the perfect new year's retreat. The sea is a short stroll away, and beyond, across the eerie Solway Firth, you can see the Lakeland peaks. It's comforting to be beside the sea, yet inside in the warmth, with no real pressure to leave the house. Especially this one ...

Despite being hewn into a charming wilderness off a secluded track, Sanderling, which oozes coastal character with creative details, offers every comfort and a host of thoughtful touches. When we visit over New Year, owners Linda and David have decorated a Christmas tree in the corner of the spacious living room and left little gifts for us all beneath it. There is a hamper in the kitchen too, containing wine, biscuits and party poppers. It all makes for a nice introduction to 2016, as we later follow up our New Year's Eve roast dinner with drams of whisky and a chaotic round of Auld lang syne (Mum is the only one of us who knows all the words!).

New Year's Day dawns grey, but we enjoy a bracing walk along the clifftops to nearby Rockcliffe - one of the best coastal walks in Britain, it passes right behind Sanderling - and then retreat indoors to guzzle mandarin and chocolate cake made by local Annette's Baking in a Box. It is lathered in whipped cream and chocolate ganache, and topped with mandarin segments, pine cones, cinnamon sticks and a candle, and, though it may look too good to eat, it tastes too good not to eat! This was our second visit to Sanderling, and obviously, like the cake, it is just too difficult to resist ...
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