HEADING through Grasmere, home to some of the loveliest views I’ve ever seen, it’s easy to see why William Wordsworth fell in love with this corner of the Lake District.

It was here, at Dove Cottage in the hamlet of Town End, that he wrote some of his best-known poetry, and where his sister Dorothy kept her ‘Grasmere Journal’. Wordsworth came across Dove Cottage while walking with Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1799 and, within a few months he and Dorothy had moved in.

Standing by the Ambleside to Keswick road, the early 17th century property was originally an inn, the Dove and Olive, which Wordsworth refers to in his poem The Waggoner. The white-washed walls, flagstone floors and wood panelling date from its days as an inn, and little has changed since the Wordsworths lived there.

Dove Cottage is owned by the Wordsworth Trust and guided tours take visitors into its literary past. Passing through a vestibule, we entered a room known to the Wordsworths by local term the “houseplace”. It was here where they cooked on the fire, took meals, carried out chores. All the furniture in Dove Cottage belonged to the family, but the houseplace contains just three of their possessions - a wooden tray for accepting visiting cards, a painting of pet dog Pepper, and a Royal Warrant confirming Wordsworth as Poet Laureate in 1843, (a title he didn’t want, our guide revealed, and only took on condition that he wouldn’t write poetry “on demand”).

Next was Dorothy’s downstairs bedroom, where she wrote her journals, then the kitchen, where a dark patch above the fireplace shows the original colour of the walls, blackened by smoke and cooking stains. A sink was added by Victorian tenants; in the Wordsworths’ time there water was collected in buckets from a stream in the garden. Part of the stream trickles beneath the slate floor of the buttery. Climbing the stairs, we passed William’s charming cuckoo clock, a much-loved 70th birthday gift. His bedroom looks out to a lovely view of Grasmere lake; in her journals Dorothy mentions William leaving the curtains open at night to watch the moon shimmering on the water. In 1802, when Wordsworth married and moved his wife, Mary, into the house, it became Dorothy’s bedroom and that summer she wrote of observing swallows building a nest in the window ledge.

The sitting room, brighter than the wood panelled downstairs rooms, is where William wrote. In the centre of the room is his cutlass chair, where he’d sit to write, resting his notebook on an arm, or recite verse he’d composed in the garden, for Mary or Dorothy to write down. A painting of William and Mary hanging by the window shows her holding a quill. A couch by the wall is referred to in The Daffodils - “for oft when on my couch I lie...”

This room was also where the Wordsworths entertained guests, including family friends Coleridge and Sir Walter Scott.

Across the landing is the intriguing Newspaper Room, a former nursery which was cold in winter, leading Dorothy to line the walls with newspapers for insulation.

Born in Cockermouth, Wordsworth was Cambridge-educated and well travelled - but returning to Cumbria, he described the delightful fellside garden at Dove Cottage as “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found”. Restored to the half-wild beauty lovingly cultivated by William and Dorothy, the garden is a place of peace and inspiration, where William composed many of his poems, shaped by his love of nature, and Dorothy wrote her journals. They planted flowers and shrubs from the fells and lakeside; foxgloves, daffodils, thyme, an orchard of apple and pear trees and a vegetable patch. They grew roses, honeysuckle and runner beans up the cottage walls and laid steps up to a terrace, where Dorothy recorded her brother pacing back and forth, composing. It’s lovely to sit here, on a wooden seat in the ‘summer shed’, at the top of their “domestic slip of mountain”, looking out to the beautiful valley.

In the Wordsworth Museum next door, William’s life story unfolds through a collection of original manuscripts, letters, journals and artwork.

With Dove Cottage too small for his growing family, William left in 1808, moving to Grasmere then Rydal Mount near Ambleside. But this little Town End cottage, so harmonious with its landscape, is forever home to this giant of the Romantic Age.

* Visit wordsworth.org.uk