The ever-growing ice-cream industry in Derbyshire

Bluebells ice cream delight

Bluebells ice cream delight - Credit: Archant

Nothing screams summer more than ice cream and here in Derbyshire we have an abundance of award-winning dairies. Claire Bore finds a little piece of ice cream heaven as she scoops her way around the county

The Hope Valley creamery

The Hope Valley creamery - Credit: Archant

Ice creams go hand in hand with summer – think sun, sea and sand. They’re also big business, with over 500 ice cream businesses and 1,000 artisan ice cream makers in the UK taking a massive £1 billion a year. Although we may be lacking slightly with the ‘sea’ side of things here in Derbyshire, we can still kick back and relax with some of the finest ice cream in the country and it’s all thanks to our wonderful green pastures, cows and dairies.

‘Derbyshire is a wonderful county for ice cream producers, not least because of the availability of such high-quality dairy produce,’ says Steve Verrill, Director of PR for Ice Cream Alliance (ICA), the UK trade association for ice cream, which is based on Pride Park in Derby. They should know – not only do they operate a quality standard to ensure traditional UK ice cream maintains its authenticity of being made from milk protein and milk fat, they also organize the biggest ice cream exhibition in the UK and the prestigious National Ice Cream Competition which highlights the UK’s best ice cream makers.

Derbyshire’s ice cream makers have won many of these awards over the years. ‘Derbyshire producers are highly committed and skilled ice cream makers providing a wide range of textures and flavours. The county has many excellent dairy farms producing top quality milk, cream and butter and all this certainly helps our local ice cream makers to produce such special flavours,’ acknowledges Steve. ‘The wonderful thing about ice cream is that it tastes delicious wherever you are, be it out walking in the Derbyshire Dales or strolling along a seaside promenade. All the best ice cream makers have a real passion for their art and they show tremendous commitment and dedication to producing the highest quality ice creams from the finest ingredients, be that vanilla from Madagascar, chocolate from Belgium or milk from the Peak District.’

That dedication can be clearly seen at Smith’s Creamland Ices who have generations of experience in making ice cream. For them, it’s a way of life, a tradition rather than a conscious choice. In the case of other Derbyshire producers, a combination of factors has led them in the ice cream direction. At Matlock Meadows, Amanda cites the area’s high quality dairy farmers and tourist attractions as reasons behind Derbyshire’s wealth of ice cream makers. Hope Valley’s Jane Marsden agrees, ‘I think Derbyshire farmers have started to make ice cream as they feel that there is a market for it from the cities surrounding the countryside.’ For some producers, it really is down to making a living with the land that they have. ‘Derbyshire is not typically an arable county – the pastures are more suited to dairy farming and as such it has a relatively high percentage of dairy farms,’ reasons Rosemary Brown from Bluebells Dairy Ltd. It’s a natural progression from dairy to ice cream, she adds, ‘Combine the land with tourism and a demand for good quality, locally produced food, and ice cream production becomes a viable option for the county’s struggling dairy farms.’

Ice cream for two at Bluebells

Ice cream for two at Bluebells - Credit: Archant

Whatever the reasons, ice cream is clearly here to stay in the region. ‘There is no doubt that Derbyshire has its share of first class ice cream and some of the country’s finest scenery to enjoy it in,’ says ICA’s Steve. Derbyshire Life has rounded up some of the best scoops for the perfect summer cool down, right here on our doorstep…

Smith’s Creamland ICES

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Why they started? Domenico Manfredi and his wife Louise both came from ice cream dynasties and started making ice cream from a café in Market Street, Clay Cross in 1955. Demand paved the way for bigger premises and a factory in the 1970s. The family still has the shop and factory today where all the ice cream is made.

How it is made: This is a highly guarded secret – which is combined with lots of hard work.

Taste: Specialists in vanilla and dairy ice cream, using high quality ingredients.

Unique Selling Cream Point: It really is a family business through and through. From its early beginnings in 1950s Tony and Louise have continued their families’ tradition and three of their five daughters now work in the business.

Awards: Six times winner of 1st prize best vanilla ice cream, three times 1st 2016 National Champion for vanilla.

Top seller: Vanilla

Contact: or 01246 863766

Hope Valley

Why they started: The family farmed and milked cows for generations and as financial returns from milk were dwindling they looked to add value by producing ice cream with fresh milk from their own cows.

How it is made: Fresh milk is taken from the bulk storage tank on the farm to a specially converted area of the farmhouse where it is pasteurized with extra cream, fresh egg yolks and sugars, giving a lovely mix to which fruit or other flavourings are added. Then it is whipped up and frozen.

Taste: The wholesome fresh dairy ingredients give it a special taste and they experiment with new flavours.

Unique Selling Cream Point: Produced by the family with fresh milk from their own cows.

Awards: Best dairy product – Bakewell Show

Top seller: Vanilla and clotted cream, delicious rich chocolate, blackberry, salted caramel.

Contact: or 01433 650659


Why we started: Ten years ago the Brown family needed to diversify due to the price they were and still are receiving for their milk. The choice was either to add value to the milk or sell their cows. They wanted to create a dynamic, sustainable business that would support several generations of their family, producing a quality product. The family all love ice cream, so it was an easy decision to make.

How it is made: Once the cows are milked in the morning, it travels 20 metres across the yard to the ice cream lab where it is pasteurized and incorporated with the finest ingredients to make luxury artisan ice cream. It is made in small batches and handcrafted into tubs and Napolis (a type of container), with sprinkles of chocolate chips, mint crisp and fudge pieces.

Taste: The quality and sheer creaminess, which is thanks to the Bluebell cows. The family trained with a world famous Italian gelato chef. They went on to win the Italian Artisan Ice Cream Festival in Italy – beating the Italians at their own game!

Unique Selling Cream Point: Beautiful artisan ice cream. The family’s many exciting adventures along the way include a visit from HRH Prince Charles and representing Derbyshire Food Producers in the Houses of Parliament on two occasions – the Prime Minister, Chancellor and many Government ministers enjoyed their Gin and Tonic Sorbet!

Awards: The Varnelli Trophy at the Italian Artisan Ice Cream festival in Agglugliano, Italy; nine Great Taste Awards; Great Taste Producer; one of three finalists in the BBC Food and Farming Awards; Winner of Countryside Alliance Awards; Silver in British Farming Awards; Ice Cream National Award Winners.

Top seller: Amaretto and Black Cherry or Devilishly Chocolate.

Contact: or 01332 673924

Matlock Meadows

Why they started: To add value to the undervalued milk, enable a sustainable living from the farm and create a product of which they could be proud.

How it is made: The ice cream is made with milk from the farm’s dairy cows. Batch artisan equipment is used to pasteurize the base and natural ingredients are added to flavour the ice cream – from real strawberries to Madagascan vanilla and real Belgian chocolate.

Taste: It is a dense product with a low overrun – a low amount of air – which gives it an intense flavour.

Unique Selling Cream Point: Its cows graze the limestone pastures overlooking Matlock.

Awards: 2 Star Great Taste Award

Top seller: Vanilla, closely followed by chocolate, mint choc chip, salted caramel, honeycomb.

Contact: or 01629 760596

Top 10 Derbyshire flavours

According to the Ice Cream Alliance the most unique flavour they have come across nationwide is egg and bacon! But what are the top 10 Derbyshire flavours:

1. Salted Caramel Butterscotch – Bluebells

2. Gertrude’s Whisky and Ginger – Hope Valley

3. Rhubarb and Custard – Matlock Meadows

4. Cider Sorbet – Smiths Creamland Ices

5. Bubblegum – Matlock Meadows

6. English Trifle – Smiths Creamland Ices

7. Panna Cotta – Our Cow Molly

8. Rosemary’s Raspberry Pavlova – Hope Valley

9. Liquorice – Our Cow Molly

10. Apricot and Stilton – Bluebells and Hartington Cheese

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