"I COULD get used to this," I thought, not for the first time that day, as I curled up in an armchair by a roaring fire, gazing out at the elegant grounds of Abbotsford House.

It’s not every day a girl gets to stay in a historic country house, so I was very lucky to be invited to the former home of Sir Walter Scott in the Scottish borders. I spent a few days there celebrating a friend’s big birthday; a group of us stayed in the Hope Scott Wing, built as a family home when Scott’s historic rooms were opened to the public.

Sitting on the bank of the River Tweed, surrounded by 120 acres of grounds and woodland, the house, designed by Scott, is said to have impressed Queen Victoria so much that she modelled Balmoral on its style.

The spacious three-floor wing, featuring some of the Scott family’s furniture and artwork, has seven luxury en-suite bedrooms, individually styled and named after family members and distinguished guests, (among them Princess Alice, the Queen’s aunt), an elegant sitting-room, with a grand piano and sink-into settees, a billiard room, a delightful reading room and a fabulous kitchen, where we spent happy hours around the table. There’s also a private courtyard and patio garden.

With portraits of Scott’s family on the walls, there’s a sense of history behind every door, particularly in the dining-room where we enjoyed a candlelit birthday dinner, overlooking the River Tweed. This was, during Scott’s time, one of Scotland’s most celebrated tables where the likes of William Wordsworth and Prince Leopold, later King of Belgium, were entertained.

As guests in the Hope Scott Wing, we had passes to adjoining Abbotsford House which is open to the public, offering a fascinating glimpse into the world of the writer who gave us such classics as Ivanhoe, Rob Roy and Waverley. The house was built in three phases, spanning 1817 to the 1850s, about 20 years after Scott’s death. His expansion of the property and its grounds transformed it from a farmhouse to a stately residence. Wandering through Scott’s study, library and drawing room, you can imagine him seated at his desk, looking out to his favourite riverside views, penning the sweeping romantic novels, plays and poems that amassed his fortune. The Hope Scott wing was added by Scott’s granddaughter, Charlotte, after his death, and the family lived there until 2004.

A trip to Abbotsford isn’t complete without visiting the garden, designed by Scott. It comprises three interlinked ‘outdoor rooms’: The South Court, with high walls and gothic arcade, complementing the romantic appeal of the house and its surrounding natural beauty; the sunken garden, where roses climb a tower which housed fruit hung to dry; and, through a stone archway, a walled kitchen garden - the vegetable plot of the original farmhouse - and a glass house, based on the design of a knight’s jousting pavilion. Scott didn’t have to look far out of his windows, at winding gothic staircases, Rapunzel towers and dramatic riverside views, for inspiration for his literary adventures.

There are various woodland and riverside walks around Abbotsford. We walked a few miles to Melrose, where a rugby match was in full swing. The pretty town is the home of the Melrose Sevens, the world’s oldest rugby sevens competition, and Melrose Abbey, where the heart of Robert the Bruce is buried.

The following day we headed out to Cauldshiels Loch, an eerie spot said to be haunted by a ‘water bull’ kelpie. Was he stirring beneath the water as we took a breather on a nearby log? I’d like to think so. Surrounded by tranquil woods and rolling hills, this is a magical corner of the Scottish borders.

"I could get used to this," I thought, back at the house, wandering below stairs to the happy throng in the kitchen.

It was a wrench to leave Abbotsford, not least its sumptuous reading room. What a treat to stay in this lovely house, in a part of Scotland as rugged and romantic as a Walter Scott novel.

* Visit scottsabbotsford.com or call 01896 752043.