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Bucket list experience:

exterior of the small white cottage

Dove Cottage – William Wordsworth’s former home

Credit K Grove

Last updated: 10 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Oliver Berry

Of all the Wordsworth sites dotted around the Lake District, Dove Cottage is arguably the most atmospheric. Once an inn called the Dove & Olive, this little whitewashed cottage was Wordsworth’s first home in the Lakes after returning from London; he moved here in 1799 with his sister Dorothy, wife Mary and his small family, and remained here till 1808.

Informative guided tours delve into the secrets of the house and its history. The house is packed with fascinating possessions, from a pair of his spectacles and his passport to a portrait of his favourite dog, Pepper, given to him by Sir Walter Scott. Look out for the bedroom plastered with newspaper – a makeshift form of insulation necessitated by the Wordsworth’s impecunious circumstances.

At the back of the cottage is a charmingly wild garden, which Wordsworth called his ‘domestic slip of mountain’ – he tended to it himself, and often composed poetry out here too.

Don’t miss

There’s a great little Wordsworth Museum next to the house, which has exhibits including original manuscripts, journals, letters and artefacts.

Price from: £12
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 180+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Dove Cottage is a ten-minute walk from the centre of Grasmere. It is very popular, so it’s a good idea to pre-book online; at time of writing, tours are allocated by hourly time slots. There is a pleasant cafe located next to the cottage which does light lunches, cakes and teas.

When to do it

It’s open Tuesday to Sunday, from April to October.

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Daffodil Hotel

Grasmere, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[0.1 miles]

A large, lakeside hotel not far from Grasmere, with a variety of rooms to suit all kinds of visitors – families, couples, walkers and weekend breakers will all find a happy home here.

Official star rating:

Forest Side Hotel

Grasmere, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[1.1 miles]

One of the very best of the Lake District’s boutique hotels, a reinvented country mansion, brimming with wit, style and invention. In prime position for exploring the Lakes..

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Brimstone Hotel & Spa

Great Langdale, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[2.4 miles]

The Lakeland version of a deluxe ski lodge, offering supremely plush rooms, a lavish spa and a very private location on a Langdale estate. It’s also adults-only – making this an ideal place for couples looking for a place to pamper themselves.

Official star rating:

The Samling

Windermere, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[6.1 miles]

A charming, cosy boutique hotel, perched on a private hillside on a 67-acre estate, with an excellent restaurant and grandstand views across Lake Windermere.

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Lake District

Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)

Imposing mountains, wild landscapes, tranquil lakes and picturesque towns combine to make the Lake District uniquely beautiful, and one of the best places in Britain for walking, climbing, boating and biking.

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Our writer’s recommendations of other bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Rydal Mount

Rydal, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[2.3 miles]

Wordsworth’s grand family home between Ambleside and Grasmere is an essential stop: it’s full of memorabilia, and offers an intriguing glimpse of the Wordsworth family’s daily life in the Lakes.

Best for ages: 18+ | £5

Hill Top

Ambleside, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[11.8 miles]

Beatrix Potter’s cottage is every bit as pretty (and popular) as you’d expect – and, for fans of her books, offers the chance to see some of the places that inspired her illustrations.

Best for ages: 13+ | £15

Walk up Scafell Pike

Wasdale, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[12.6 miles]

Climb up to the highest point in England for a memorable view of the Wasdale fells – and a special sense of achievement. But don’t expect to be on your own if the weather’s fine

Best for ages: 13+ | Free | Full day

Underground tours of Honister Mine

Keswick, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[13.4 miles]

Venture underground into the dark mines under Honister Pass to discover the history of Lakeland slate mining – and, if you’re feeling brave, tackle an underground climbing expedition.

Best for ages: 3+ | £18

Other worthwhile experiences near this experience if you have time or interest..

Exterior fo the small shop in Grasmere

Grasmere Gingerbread Shop

Ambleside, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[0.6 miles]

Sarah Nelson’s gingerbread is an institution in Grasmere: it’s been made to the same recipe since 1854. It’s wonderfully quaint – the frilly outfits worn by the shop staff are something from a bygone age.

Best for ages: 4+ | Free | 3 hours

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Pedestrians outside the gift shop and cafe in the Main Street in the centre of Grasmere Village

Grasmere Village

Ambleside, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[0.9 miles]

The region’s most picturesque and charming village. Grasmere is set on the shores of its eponymous lake and cradled by green fields and fells. William Wordsworth is buried in the churchyard of St Oswald’s – you can see the poet’s tombstone.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free | 3 hours

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Exterior of a large white house


Troutbeck, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[8 miles]

This traditional stone and slate farmhouse was home to local famers the Browne family for over 400 years. The house and family’s possessions have been preserved, showcasing rural life in the Lakes over the past centuries.

Best for ages: 18+ | £9 | 3 hours

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Lady staring at a painting by Beatrix Potter, at the Beatrix Potter Gallery in Hawkshead, Cumbria. Beatrix Potter's original artwork on display in a 17th-century house.

Beatrix Potter Gallery

Hawkshead, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)[8.9 miles]

This small gallery in Hawkshead is located in the old office of Beatrix Potter’s husband, solicitor William Heelis. It holds regular exhibitions of her work, including her beautiful botanical paintings.

Best for ages: 10+ | £7 | 3 hours

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