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The Otley Run, Leeds

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Leeds, UK is a student town with plenty of nightlife, and one Leeds institution that has been around about as long as its two universities is the pub crawl known as the Otley Run,

so named because it follows the Otley Road which runs from Leeds city centre (starting as Woodhouse Lane), out to Far Headingley and beyond.

The Otley Run is a route well trodden by the student clubs and societies (frequently in fancy dress), and if you want to see a bit of the real Leeds outside the city centre, then this crawl will show you a side of the city that is both studenty and local, from friendly, cosy pubs to the more upbeat and trendy bars. So, hold onto your hats, I am now going to take you on the mother of all pub crawls:

1. Woodies Ale House, Far Headingley

This is the traditional start of the Otley Run, but Woodies is a great place to go for a drink in its own right. Close to Leeds Metropolitan University Beckett Park Campus, Woodies is loved for its good ales, and is fraternised by locals and students alike. It’s an old pub which is open plan and has a nice wooden interior and a beer garden. You can get Greene King and Ruddles here – so say no more!

2. The Three Horseshoes, Far Headingley

Heading back down the Otley Road in the direction of the city centre you next come to The Three Horseshoes, which is a small traditional stone built pub. There is a welcoming atmosphere, and the place is renowned for its pub quizzes and home cooked food.

3. The New Inn, Far Headingley

The next on the route is the New Inn, which is another pretty stone built pub which looks a bit like a country cottage. You can sit out on benches at the front and watch the world go by as you sip on a real ale, and if the weather’s cold, then you can lounge inside on their comfy chairs and sofas.

4. Headingley Taps, Headingley

The Headingley Taps has an interesting frontage that would not be out of place on the canalside in Amsterdam, but it’s actually like that because it used to be a water pumping station! Now it’s a Wetherspoon’s pub, and so has a fair selection of ales, lagers and other drinks at affordable prices. The service is friendly, and there is plenty of space to park your car at the front.

5. The Arc, Headingley

And now for something completely different – a modern structure in glass and concrete, The Arc really is in the shape of an arc, and has a decidedly contemporary and stylish feel. There are bars on two levels, a lovely view from the balcony, and a lawned garden. The drinks may be a little more expensive here, but the range of beers, wines and cocktails is top class.

6. The Box, Headingley

The Box also has a very urban and stylish feel, with a distinctly box-like exterior. It is a sports bar with screens showing all the big games, and it certainly seems to attract the sporty types. There is a good selection of drinks, and it is known for its large cocktails. Expect decent prices and fast service.

7. The Skyrack, Headingley

The Skyrack is another sports bar, and there are bouncers on the door. You can drink al fresco here if you wish, and they even have outdoor heaters to drive away any winter chills. If you fancy a game of pool there are a couple of pool tables in their own special area.

8. The Original Oak, Headingley

With a whopping great beer garden this pub is great for drinking outdoors, and they sometimes even have a barbecue on. This is one of the most popular student pubs in the area, with bars on two levels, sports screens, and sofas. With reasonably priced drinks this place quickly gets crowded, adding to its lively atmosphere.

9. The Hyde Park, Hyde Park Corner

Popular with students, indie rockers, and sports lovers, the Hyde Park tends to get crowded. They have regular quizzes, and even pool and poker tournaments. They do pub grub, but this is probably not the place to go for a quiet meal!

10. The Library, Woodhouse Lane

Housed in a beautiful municipal-style building, The Library actually used to be a library. They do a good selection of drinks at reasonable prices, and some decent pub food. They have some comedy nights and live music upstairs, making it a good place for small, intimate gigs.

11. The Packhorse, Woodhouse Lane

The Packhorse does a good pint, and attracts the serious real ale lovers. It has a decidedly more local feel than some of the pubs on the crawl. Loved for its character, this pub has been known to become a firm favourite with former students who have settled in the area.

12. The Eldon, Woodhouse Lane

Being right opposite the university, The Eldon is popular with both staff and students alike from that venerable institution. Here you will find a traditional pub interior of wooden screens topped by leaded glass where you can enjoy your pint of real ale in style. There are big plasma screens for watching the sports, but also places to sit where you don’t see them, if keeping an eye on the rugby or soccer is not for you. There is a menu of very reasonably priced pub food, including fish and chips, rump steak and other goodies.

13. The Fenton, Woodhouse Lane

Next on the crawl is the lively and friendly little pub known as The Fenton, which is renowned for its good and reasonably priced real ales. They have Tetley bitter, plus a couple of good guest ales, as well as a fair range of wines. There is also good pub grub with tons of chips! To keep you entertained there is a pool table and a digital juke box.

14. Strawberry Fields, (Strawbs) Woodhouse Lane

But to give you a complete change of scene – Strawberry Fields, aka Strawbs, is not really a pub at all. A cafe by day and a bar by night, you’ll know Strawbs when you see it, because the front is red with massive great strawberries painted on it. Here you can buy some terrific cocktails such as White Russian, Strawberry Sin, Banana Rumble, and a whole rainbow more of them. They also do alcopops, as well as draught and bottled lagers. And the real piece de resistance of Strawbs is that you can even get absinthe here! Mind how you go.

15. The Dry Dock, Woodhouse Lane

And finally we’ve made it to the end of our pub crawl – The Dry Dock looks like a washed up barge in the middle of the road opposite Leeds Met Uni, but in fact it’s a pretty cool pub, with a strong appeal to the alt punk, emo and screamo brigade. Having said that it is a friendly place, and you’ll love it if you like Green Day, New Order, Nine Inch Nails and the like. Here you can get a variety of beers and lagers at affordable prices.

What a long strange journey it’s been! So if you feel like reliving your student days, seeing another side of Leeds, and discovering some good pubs and bars in the process, then the Otley Run could be just what you need.

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Photo of beer ad in Leeds, UK, by Si Wilson

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About the author

Venere Travel Blog writer carol ferndale

Carol Ferndale has lived in the UK, Japan, Sweden and the Middle East, as well as studying in France, and doing cultural exchange activities in Belgium. She has also traveled by bus across the USA from coast to coast, spent time in Canada, strolled around the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, explored other parts of Eastern Europe, made a number of journeys to Turkey, and onwards into various parts of Asia, including China and Thailand. Carol Ferndale now spends most of her time in England, writing, computer programming, and taking an interest in the nature of the universe.

4 responses to “The Otley Run, Leeds”

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  1. yvette says:
    February 3rd, 2010 at 00:54

    hi thanks for the nice comments about our bar, but we havent opened during the day for 5 years now, we open as a bar at 7pm in the eve,after 24 years of split shifts we decided just to open eves ,regards yvette( owner of strawbs for 29 years )

  2. Carol Ferndale says:
    February 3rd, 2010 at 16:38

    Hi Yvette – thanks for letting us know! I like to keep my info up to date. I am based in Leeds, and pass your bar quite a lot, as well as having frequented it too. It would be interesting to do a short interview with you at some point, I like to write short pieces about local businesses, esp those involved in entertainment.

    Best

    Carol Ferndale

  3. Jim says:
    December 6th, 2012 at 15:22

    If you were to do the otley run on new years eve, would you need to pay to get into EVERY BAR? Starting early on too about 2 o clockish?

  4. Carol Ferndale says:
    December 8th, 2012 at 22:25

    I don’t think you need to pay to get into any of them. I have not heard of this anyway. They are pubs and bars, not clubs, so you should not have to pay to get in.


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