A Fantastic Outdoor Sunday Lunch at The Woodmans Arms

If there is one thing I started craving towards the end of lockdown, it was a proper pub Sunday lunch. I mean Steve makes a lush dinner but to do it right, it takes forever and then there are so many dishes too. 

Disclosure - the first part of this post is part of an (ad) with The Woodsmans Arms and based on a visit in October 2020. We paid for the food & drinks mentioned in the second part of this post which is based on a visit in July 2020. 
One thing I am asked a lot is 'where can I go book for lunch which has heated & covered outdoor seating?'. My answer is always the Woodsmans Arms. After the success of their heated outdoor terrace which we visited over the summer, they have now added another heated area in the form of a well ventilated and heated tent area which has serious festival vibes. 

What I love about The Woodsmans Arms is that you can book outdoor seating online - not many places offer this. 

Before I jump into the photos of the new area, I just wanted to go through a few of the different areas you can pre-book online (subject to Government restrictions): 

  • Standard = the main indoor restaurant area (which is anything but standard)
  • Bar = the indoor bar area (dogs welcome here) 
  • Outdoor = the heated and covered outdoor terrace and tent area (dogs are also welcome here)
Find out more, view menus and book a table online here: https://thewoodmansarms.com/

I just love the new tent area which is situated where the main beer garden used to be. Filled with hay bales, various seating, twinkly lights, cosy cushions and throws, it has serious festival vibes. Each area has it's own dedicated team and you are always very well looked after. 

The area is heated with patio style heaters and warm air. We were perfectly cosy during our October visit. 

I love bringing the kids here and they love it too. I would probably say it is our favourite place for Sunday lunch. The staff are always so friendly, there is a brilliant selection of drinks and the kids love that they can have proper wood-fired pizza and award-winning fish and chips and Steve and I can order a nice roast dinner. The menu here keeps everyone happy. Oh and they serve my favourite Edinburgh Gin too. 

Jack loves fish and chips and highly rates this version (which is normally served with mushy peas but Jack asked for them to be removed). I always steal a chip or two and they are to die for. This dish is award-winning and I can see why. 

Steve and I usually order the Sirloin (for Steve) or Brisket (for me). Both are served with a side of green veg, root veg, extra jug of gravy, root mash, roasties and an epic yorkshire. Honestly, each element is perfect. We can never finish it all either, portions are very decent. 

Kids can order smaller pizzas / portions of most dishes on the main menu which I actually prefer over a dedicated kids menu and it also means there are multiple veggie options available for Heidi in a smaller portion. 

If you can, I recommend leaving room for dessert. Their sticky toffee pudding is incredible (can be served as part of an ice cream sundae below too) and for autumn/winter, they have cherry pie and crumbles on the menu too. So good. 

If you are looking for an outdoor dining experience with attentive staff, heated areas, cosy cushions and throws and delicious food, the Woodsmans Arms has to be at the top of your list. 

In addition to the tented area and heated terrace, if you are looking for an extra special area, you can book the grain tank which is stunning and perfect for a family celebration. This is located within the tented area outdoors but is a more private / intimate setting. This area can seat up to six and can be reserved by calling 0191 488 8998. 

Al Fresco Sunday Lunch at The Woodsmans Arms - Heated Outdoor Terrace 

In July, I booked us an alfresco table at one of our favourite pubs (The Woodmans Arms in Whickham) for Sunday lunch as our payday treat. I counted the days and obsessively watched the forecast as the date drew closer. 

I booked an outdoor table as dining outdoors is deemed to be safer and I love that you can select this option when booking online with The Woodman's Arms. I would actually dine inside now too but if the option to dine outdoors is there and the weather is ok - I will take that option first. I was cautious as this was our first trip to a pub/restaurant post-lockdown. 

The Woodmans Arms is just along the road from Gibside, Thornley Woodland Centre & Sculpture Trail and the Land of Oak and Iron - a perfect pub to enjoy after a nice family walk. There is ample free parking. 

On the day of our reservation, the sun was shining in the morning. So much so that we had breakfast in the garden but typically, as we arrived at the pub, the sky filled with dark clouds. I was worried our much-anticipated lunch would be rained off! 

I did not need to worry though, the outdoor terrace at The Woodman's Arms has open sides but a covered roof. It feels light, airy and well-ventilated yet is completely weather-proof too. Just as well as not long after we arrived, the heavens opened. It was a quick shower and we watched the rain without getting wet. Then the sun decided to shine for the rest of our visit. 

Honestly, I would not let the forecast put you off eating outside here this summer - the whole area really has been designed to withstand the great British weather. 

Booths in the outdoor terrace seat up to 6 comfortably. Each area has their own heater if needed and some have their own beer tap. It was 18 degrees on the day of our visit and perfect. The area is very welcoming and cosy. 

With us sitting outside, I was worried that we may have been forgotten about but this was not the case at all. The outdoor section seemed to have its own team and we were well looked after throughout. Service was friendly and we were in and out (for one course) within 45 minutes. I especially liked that they were prompt in bringing the bill when asked and they brought the card machine at the same time. My pet hate is waiting around for it. 

I already knew what I was going to order so didn't really need to look at the menu. The Beef Brisket here is my absolute fave. It is so soft and tender and just melts when your knife touches it. 

Harry and Heidi ordered pizzas which they really enjoyed. They have their own proper pizza oven here and they are a bit of a speciality. 

Jack ordered the award-winning fish and chips (minus mushy peas and tartare sauce). We let him order the adult portion as he was really looking forward to his fix and is quite a big eater. I pinched a few chips and they were proper homemade ones. Delish! Jack enjoyed his fish and chips but said they were not as good as his all-time fave (Coastline Blyth - I don't think anywhere will beat there for him). 

Steve opted for the lamb shoulder which he loved. As you can see, you get plenty of meat. 

I was a little nervous waiting for my meal  - what if it wasn't as good as I remembered? OMG I did not need to worry at all. It tasted so good and everything was cooked perfectly. 

You are given an extra jug of gravy as standard and it is proper gravy. All pubs should do this! 

Clean plates all round - I even went in for a second helping of vegetables. We all really love the Sticky Toffee Pudding here but we were all completely full up. Full and happy! How Sundays should be. 

Our bill was £70 which for 5 delicious adult meals and drinks, I thought was reasonable. 

COVID 19 measurements in place: 

  • Pre-bookings only (book online or over the phone)
  • Covered outdoor seating available
  • Lots of hand sanitiser available
  • Single-use menus
  • Staff wear face coverings and face coverings are required when customers move around tables (can be removed once seated - usual exemptions apply)
  • Track and Trace QR code visable
  • Toilets are just inside the pub entrance - you do not need to walk through the whole pub to get to them
  • Single use sauce/salt/pepper sachets
  • Individual outdoor booths and seating area with clear physical separation from other booths
  • Cutlery brought to your table
  • Prompt table service and contactless / card payments 
The Woodmans Arms allows dogs in the outdoor area and is accessible. A step-free route is clearly advertised at the entrance. 

If you are looking for a cracking Sunday lunch in a light and airy setting, I cannot recommend here enough. Well done to the whole team. 

View menus, find out more and book here: https://thewoodmansarms.com/

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Please follow social distancing rules & Government guidelines , respect the local area, leave no trace, take litter home, park responsibly and if somewhere is busy on arrival, please consider leaving and returning at a later date. 

Always check updated opening hours / protocols with venues direct before setting off as things may have changed after this post was published. 


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