It’s getting hot here in the Lake District and if there is one thing that goes hand in hand with hot weather, then it has to be ice cream. Delicious, creamy, food of the gods, ice cream symbolises happy memories of summer holidays and teatime treats in the long summer evenings.

There’s something a bit special about going out for an ice cream, it’s a scrumptious treat that can cheer up even the grumpiest of souls. It’s the ultimate comfort food, light and uplifting. After all, you never see unhappy people in an ice cream shop, because it’s something that brings great joy to us all! 

Of course, Italy is often regarded as the best place to get an ice cream, but here in the Lake District, we have some amazing ice cream producers and suppliers, meaning that you don’t have to spend a fortune travelling to Lake Garda this summer to get a great gelato, when Lake Windermere has something just as good, if not better!

1. English Lakes Ice Cream at Brockhole

English Lakes Ice Cream is one of the biggest stockists of ice cream in the Lake District, supplying numerous cafés and shops in the area and beyond. Pretty impressive for a family-run business that was set up by husband and wife team, Peter and Frances Fryer. The Kendal based company use local ingredients wherever possible to create their luxury brand of creamy goodness, and they have a huge range of flavours available, including the quirkily named Thunder & Lightning.

The story goes that the name was inspired by a raging storm above Kendal when the swirling clouds in the sky looked remarkably similar to the swirls found in the company’s new flavour that combined cider toffee & chocolate sauce with ice cream to create an indulgent taste explosion.

You can pick up an English Lakes ice cream in multiple venues across the Lake District, but we particularly love heading over to Brockhole on the shore of Windermere, where the kiosk sells around a dozen different flavours. You can then enjoy a stroll on the lake shore or around the Brockhole gardens, and there are multiple outdoor activities to try at the site.

2. The Little Ice Cream Shop, Hawkshead

Ice cream should be enjoyed by everyone, which is why we love the Little Ice Cream Shop in Hawkshead. Not only does this award winning ice cream parlour sell a huge range of mouth-watering flavours of ice cream, they also sell vegan and dairy free sorbets so everyone can get in on the ice cream action. Oh, and what is more, they even have ice cream for your dog! Yes, that’s right, even your four legged friend can enjoy some delicious ice cream without getting an upset tummy.

Choose from a variety of flavours, including Kendal Mintcake, Rocky Road, and the intriguing My Ex’s Soul, which is actually vanilla ice cream with charcoal that creates a deep black ice cream, the same colour as your ex’s soul, hence the name. You can have it in a chocolate dipped waffle cone, or in a tub, and there are sprinkles to add to the happiness.

All the ice cream is made in Hawkshead using Cumbrian milk and cream. Once you have your ice cream take a stroll around the cobbled streets of Hawkshead, or down to the shore of Esthwaite Water. If you can’t get to Hawkshead they also have a store in Windermere, and if you're not in the Lake District, you can live vicariously by looking at photos on their Instagram.

3. Luchini’s Ice Cream Parlour, Keswick

Luchini’s is not just an ice cream parlour, it’s an ice cream dynasty. Established in 1901 by the Luchini family, the business has remained in the same family ever since, and the same secret recipe that was used in 1901 is still in use today. The Keswick parlour has around 18 different flavours of Italian style ice cream, including coffee, chocolate, and coconut, with a choice of cones and tubs available. The parlour has a few tables if you want to sit in, and you can read about the Luchini family history whilst there, from their escape from poverty in Italy to the establishment of their ice cream shop in Keswick. There are gluten-free cones and ice cream available for those who need it, and the parlour is dog friendly.

Once you have your ice cream, it’s a short stroll down to Derwent Water through the pretty Hope Park. Alternatively, the parlour has a fleet of ice cream vans that can be found around the Lake District, including at Whinlatter Pass in the view point car park by Knott Head.

4. Abbott Lodge Jersey Ice Cream, Clifton, Near Penrith

If you have children, then nothing sparks joy like the suggestion of a visit to an ice cream farm. Abbott Lodge Jersey Ice Cream Farm is on the outskirts of Penrith, a short drive from Lowther Castle, making it the perfect stop-off point if you are coming from the giant adventure playground in the castle’s gardens. In 2001, the Bland family were faced with the loss of their herd of black and white cows thanks to foot and mouth. They took the brave decision to restock with the Jersey breed, and shortly after they started creating their own Jersey ice cream on the farm. Nearly 20 years and 30,000 scoops later, the farm is a thriving business and a popular tourist attraction in its own right, with an indoor and outdoor play area.

The farm produces around 40 flavours, with the usual classics alongside some more unusual choices, such as Grasmere Gingerbread and Apple Crumble. The use of Jersey milk with its higher fat content creates a much creamier texture, making this some of the most delicious ice cream around. The farm’s tearoom usually stocks around 16 of the flavours, changing the selection regularly. There are also cakes and drinks available here, and you can buy tubs of ice cream and Jersey milk to take away. If you can’t make it over to the farm, then you can also buy the ice cream at the Rheged Centre near Penrith.

5. The Handmade Ice Cream Company, Windermere Jetty Museum

There’s luxury ice cream, and then there is the ice cream made by the Handmade Ice Cream Company. Imagine if a pastry chef with 15 years’ experience turned all of his attention to ice cream. That is exactly what happened to Steven Darvill who abandoned his job as a pastry chef with the aim to make the best ice cream possible. Darvil, whose small production kitchen is located near Haverthwaite in the south Lakes, takes a chef’s approach to creating his luxury product.

He uses Jersey milk that he collects each morning from a local farm, and then uses only the best ingredients to create a range of flavours. There are no short cuts here. The sticky toffee pudding ice cream starts life as whole pudding baked from scratch. Strawberries are carefully roasted to bring out their flavour, and even the caramel sauce is made in the kitchen. The company even makes a range of vegan ice creams, so there’s no need to miss out!

The Handmade Ice Cream Company stocks a number of cafés and shops in the area, including northern supermarket Booths, and café, Emma’s Dell, in Grasmere, but for a day out head over to the Lake District’s newest attraction, the Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam, and Stories, where, as well as learning more about boating history in Windermere, you can enjoy an ice cream in the café that overlooks the lake, with stunning views.

6. Wellington Farm, Cockermouth

The Stamper family have been farming the fields around Cockermouth for several generations, but when foot and mouth disease struck in 2001 they lost their entire herd of cows, and much like Abbott Lodge farm mentioned earlier, Leigh Stamper took the decision to invest in a herd of Jersey cows, with a view to creating ice cream on the farm.

In 2005, the family opened the tea room on the farm and in the same year the farm’s ice cream flavour “Whisky & Marmalade” won an award. The Jersey cows have now gone, but the farm still uses Jersey milk to create its delicious ice cream with a range of interesting flavours, from the aforementioned Whiskey & Marmalade, to children’s favourite, ButtFlake (a combination of chocolate buttons and Cadbury’s Flake bar).

The farm is a delightful place to spend a few hours. As well as the ice cream, the tearoom serves a wide range of dishes, including main meals, breakfasts, light bites, and homemade cakes. Visitors are welcome to take a stroll through some of the farm paddocks where you may spot a llama, pony, or pig, and there is a small outdoor play area, plus coin operated quad bikes in one of the barns. There’s a small wooded area with some quirky additions to explore, and from the farm you can access the Dubbs Moss nature reserve.

7. Hartleys Beach Café, St Bees

If you want to hit the beach and enjoy an ice cream then St Bees is the place to go. Over on the west Cumbrian coast, this small village overlooks a long sandy beach and there is one building in particular that has a commanding view of the shore: The Hartley’s Beach Shop & Café. Hartleys is an ice cream supplier based in Egremont, West Cumbria, and the business dates back to 1931 when Grayson Hartley began to sell ice cream from a motorbike and sidecar.

The original basic recipe remains a secret and is still used to this day, but there are now sixty different flavours to choose from, with all the classics covered along with some more unusual varieties, including New York Blueberry Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, and Elderberry. You can enjoy the full range of flavours at the café in St Bees, offering the perfect accompaniment to your beach stroll. Alternatively, the company has a shop in Egremont where they make the ice cream, and it stocks a number of local cafés in the West Cumbrian area.

8. Windermere Ice Cream Company, Bowness-On-Windermere

Windermere Ice Cream Company

Lakeland Gingerbread from Windermere Ice Cream Company

A stone’s throw from the Windermere Lakes Cruises pier at Bowness-On-Windermere, there is a small, unassuming shop that you might walk straight on by if you weren’t paying attention. This would be a great shame, because you would be missing out on some of the best ice cream in the Lake District.

The Atkinson family have been making ice cream at Bowness for several generations, beginning with Ernest Atkinson who ran a confectionary business in the post World War One era, and produced ice cream on the side. Today, the business is known as the Windermere Ice Cream Company and their flagship shop is featured in multiple guide books, having sold over six million scoops.

What makes the ice cream at the Windermere Ice Cream Company so delicious is the approach they take to manufacturing. Ingredients are carefully considered and sourced locally wherever possible. The milk comes from Sizergh Barn Farm, the cookies used in some recipes are baked in Ambleside, and the jams used to create ripples are made in Staveley. Care has been taken to use natural ingredients and colouring wherever possible, and the business is currently working on having a zero carbon footprint by 2022. There are 36 flavours to choose from, which means you have plenty of excuses to keep coming back for more. Once you have your ice cream, enjoy a stroll along the shore of Lake Windermere. The ice cream is also sold at the Grizedale Visitor on the other side of the lake.

9. Buttermere Ayreshires Ice Cream at Syke Farm Tea Room

Buttermere is, without doubt, one of the most idyllic places in the Lake District. A walk around the Lake is about four-miles on fairly flat terrain, with plenty of lake beaches and wooded areas to explore along the way. For a Sunday afternoon stroll with the family, you really can’t get better. Actually, you can, because once you have finished your stroll, you can pop into Syke Farm Tea Room and get a little piece of ice cream heaven.

The ice cream sold at Syke Farm is made on the farm, using milk from the farm’s very own herd of Ayreshire cows. You might even spot some of the cows during your walk in the area. It’s a small production set up, so you won’t find the ice cream anywhere else, but once you arrive at Buttermere, you won’t want to go anywhere else either.

There are almost always twelve different flavours available with the classics always there alongside some more adventurous varieties, such as Strawberry & Black Pepper. The ice cream is made fresh every day, and occasionally the owners forage for local berries to use as flavourings. If ice cream isn’t enough, the tea room also sells a delicious range of homemade cakes and light meals, so what are you waiting for?