Summer in the Lake District can be a bit notoriously changeable – sunny skies one day and downpours the next, but whatever the weather, nothing beats treating yourself to ice cream after an afternoon by the lake, a walk in the hills or after wandering quaint villages such as Grasmere and Hawkshead.
These are my pick of where to find the best ice cream in the Lake District!
1. The Little Ice Cream Shop – Hawkshead and Windermere
Cute, quirky and always super popular, these guys make smooth gelato (creamier than traditional ice cream) using local milk and cream from Windermere into an array of flavours from the traditional to more unusual flavours such as Turkish Delight and Rhubarb Cheesecake and seasonal beauties such as Creme Egg all topped off with one of their iconic stamped wafters.
The original shop in Hawkshead was opened in 2016 by owner Amy when she was just 18, and was part of a plan to save money to move to London to train as an actress! After becoming a raving success, a second shop was opened in Windermere in 2018. Amy is now a professional actress in London, but the ice cream shops live on.
Vegan-friendly options are available, including sorbet and dairy-free, plus gluten-free cones and even ice creams for dogs!
The Little Ice Cream Shop Hawkshead – Laburnum House, The Square, Hawkshead, Ambleside LA22 0NZ
The Little Ice Cream Shop Windermere – 39 Crescent Rd, Windermere LA23 1BL
Open daily 12-5pm
Note that these times may differ during winter – the shops are usually closed from late October – early April
2. Rebel Gelato
Launched in 2022, Rebel Gelato focuses on making delicious ice cream and hot crumbles that are all dairy and nut free. Choose from various flavours, including double chocolate to flat white (using local coffee roasters, Red Bank) and elderflower.
These guys have the planet at the heart of all they do, from using local suppliers and fair trade ingredients to a kitchen which uses 100% renewable electricity.
You can find Rebel Gelato at a host of events across the Lake District in the summer, such as the Lakeland Trail races, plus a monthly spot from April to October at Kendal Farmers Market, held on the last Friday of every month.
Around the Lake District, check social media for the latest info
3. Kimi’s Gelato, Staveley (and beyond)
A hidden gem tucked away amongst a surprising array of foodie businesses in the quiet village of Staveley on the southern fringes of the Lake District, Kimi’s is pure gelato heaven with a steady rotation of unique flavours such as salted caramel popcorn, rocky road and pancake and maple syrup.
This Ferrero Rocher number really hit the spot after a walk up the nearby Potter Tarn!
You can also find Kimi’s Gelato served at a number of places across Cumbria, including Lucia’s in Grasmere, the Rheged Centre in Penrith and Tebay Services just off the M6.
Kimi’s Geleato 63 Main St, Staveley, Kendal LA8 9LN
Open 12-6pm Wednesday to Sunday
4. Three Hills, Keswick (and beyond)
Three Hills Gelato is a relatively new name on the Lake District ice cream scene, but ice cream maker Matthew is highly experienced, having trained in Bologna at Carpigiani Gelato University and ran the popular ice cream spot of Casa Bella in Keswick for ten years.
With organic milk coming from Torpenhow Farmhouse Dairy on the northern edges of the Lake District, you can expect a range of rich and creamy gelato flavours such as blueberry lemonade, Nutella swirl and strawberry cheesecake as well as dairy-free ice creams and sorbets.
You can also find Three Hills Gelato served at a number of places across the Lake District, such as The Chalet Tearoom in Portinscale, Mathilde’s Café in Grasmere and Force Cafe close to Ambleside.
Three Hills Gelato, 5 Lake Road, Keswick
Open Daily 12-5.30pm
5. English Lakes Ice Cream (various locations)
English Lakes Ice Cream at Ambleside Waterhead and from the The Flock In Tearoom in Rosthwaite
An old staple, serving ice cream across the Lake District for over 25 years, English Lakes Ice Cream can be found at many local tourist hotspots across the Lake District, from Ambleside Watehead Pier, Grasmere to the tiny village of Rosethwaite in Borrowdale – look out for their tubs or scoops being served when your out and about on your Lake District adventure.
Alongside their staple classics such as Thunder and Lightening (rich chocolate sauce and chunks of cinder toffee), English Lakes continue to experiment and partner with local Lake District food favourites such as Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding. Hawkshead Relish (using their jams) and Kendal Mint Cake
You can also find tubs of English Lakes Ice Cream at local supermarkets and food shops across the Lake District.
6. Bada Bing, Under Loughrigg Road between Ambleside and Rydal
I recently discovered this lovely spot on a walk between Ambleside and Rydal along the quiet road that links the two, where I enjoyed a delicious scoop of sticky toffee pudding.
A lovely couple is selling local Windermere ice cream from a sweet little bicycle freezer set up outside Fox Ghyll Country House B&B. Low-key and super friendly, they serve 3 or 4 Windermere ice creams alongside the old classics such as Magnums and Callipos.
The spot is just before the stepping stones across the Rothay River – the perfect refreshment spot when out on a wander!
No contact details, and they tend to only be there in fine weather until around 4 pm.
Looking for the best places to eat and drink across the Lake District? Check out these posts!
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