In the middle of a sweltering British heatwave, there’s nothing like an ice cream in the sun.
Good quality ice cream is a rarity sometimes, but you come across a good scoop, it’s something to sing about. Ms. Dowsons in Blackburn is a family farm that makes its own ice cream from its own cows and the results are truly breathtaking.
The place is a huge complex that welcomes visitors of all ages, but rather unusually, it is still a working farm. Ms Dowsons went from being a third-generation farm, to a place where they could make ice cream and sell it, to the huge tourist attraction we know now.
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I visited the farm to see what the ice cream tastes like and how highly I would recommend it to people in Lancashire for a good educational day out. I got to the park early to check everything out and was lucky enough to be accompanied by the company events manager, Josh.
The cafe was quiet when I arrived around 11:45am, but the surrounding area was filled with excited children as a birthday party unfolded, as well as happy families who wanted to spend their day together in good weather. Josh took me to see the animals at the real working farm Mrs. Dowsons calls home. I was first introduced to a field of sheep, then cows, llamas and even emus.
“One of the main things that we’re really passionate about is educating and educating people, not just about animals but farm to fork about how food is made – we’re not here to hide anything,” Josh said. “We’re really honest about what farming is because we’re farmers, so it’s really important to us that people know that.”
The last field to open was for the deer, of which I was told there were two living indoors at the time, but due to the hot conditions they were hiding somewhere in the shade . What impressed me the most was the genuine passion for the place that every member of staff seemed to have naturally.
Josh is clearly passionate about the farm and maintains an honest attitude with the children and families who visit daily. He tells me that it is important to be transparent about the nature of the animals and the fact that they are moved so regularly.
This is also a reason why the farm doesn’t have a lot of animal signs, as they are moved around the fields to allow the grass to clear so they can feed. I am taken to the milking area to see where the cows are milked fresh for ice cream made on site. The cows are kept on the other side in a pen, currently sheltered from the scorching sun and happy in their surroundings.
Josh added: “The cows are milked on site and the milk goes into a storage container where it stays for about two days, where it is kept cool and then it moves from there every other day because it’s at this frequency we make ice cream and it’s then stored in a freezer on the side. We make all the deliveries ourselves, so it’s a family recipe that they’ve tweaked.
“So not only are we a tourist attraction and a farm to educate people, but we’re also a working farm. It opened around 2008-2009, but it grew slowly, first as a ice cream business that started very small like batches of around 10-15 tubs.
“We’re still small now, the maximum we make is around 300 to 400 bins at a time. It grew to a place where people could buy ice cream and sell it, and then people wanted to see the animals that grew and developed.”
Now that I’ve seen the source of the ice cream, it’s time to try some for myself. The cafe had been relatively quiet when I first visited, but now, as the clock struck 12:30, the place was packed. Queues of dairy-loving families and couples waited for an ice cream to satisfy their sweet tooth and cool off.
As I wait in line, I see a dinosaur passing outside. You might think this is weird, but I was told about the dinosaur adventure section of the farm and encountered a flesh and blood T-Rex before the creature was escorted to perform in the last show.
Now it’s time to indulge and I’m first in line – opting for the more unusual flavors to really gauge the quality. Faced with delicious choices, I opt for a scoop of “Amaretto and Black Cherry” flavor, as well as a scoop of “Pear Drop” – two choices I’ve never seen turned into ice cream before.
The tub was stamped with a plaque with the company logo, a nice touch and a good mark of quality. From my first bite, I immediately know why the staff are so passionate about what they do.
It’s creamy, deep, delicious and fruity. It’s just the kind of thing you need on a hot day and it immediately blows just about any store-bought ice cream out of the water. Pieces of pear candy lie in the folds, much to my surprise and delight.
I’m sure all the flavors are as good as the ones I chose and if you’re looking for a place to visit this summer, I highly recommend it.