Smell the sea air as you drive into sleepy Ballantrae – a food store, a thrift shop, a good pub and lots of friendly locals. Castlehill, built as a Thirties’ holiday house, is the largest of these river-facing homes, while 1870s Stinchar, originally the toll house for the bridge, is the smallest. Dotted along a small road each house and cottage faces south and has a well-tended garden and a terrace, so sit out with a G&T, fire up the barbecue and drink in the peace. Windyknowe – popular with fishermen – has a sheltered veranda, High Mains is enclosed for little ones, and the views from Castlehill catch the glorious sea. Inside this big attractive whitewashed house all is light, bright and inviting with a scattering of old and the very best of new. Find country scenes on pale walls, log fires for chillier evenings, refurbished and sleek bathrooms (fluffy white towels; soaps from Arran Aromatics), and books, games and country magazines – a ‘home from home’ without the clutter. Overseer of all this delight is Caroline, the perfect owner host. Rest and read, chat and chill, bring the dog – walks start from the door.