If you haven’t done The Otley Run yet, don’t wait any longer! Armed with this pub-by-pub guide to one of the world’s great booze trails, you’ll truly have a day/night/hangover to remember.
Whether you see it as an initiation, a baptism of fire or just a damn good day out, the Otley Run is a part of the rich fabric of life in Leeds. Over the years it has evolved – it used to actually begin in Otley, now it simply covers a sizeable stretch of Otley Road – and is a familiar weekend fixture. Starting at Woodies and ending at The Dry Dock, there are 15 ports of call, with runners supposed to have a drink at every stop. On your marks, get set, go…
Woodies Craft Ale House
Woodies is the official starting point of the modern Otley Run. So much so, it should have somebody stood there with a starting gun. This Far Headingley boozer is a great place to kick things off, with loads of space for you and your gang to fit into – especially if you’re wearing a massive foam fancy-dress outfit. There’s a beer garden for those sunny days, while the drinks range is huge.
It’s a Greene King pub, so expect to see most of their range, including their Progress Pale – 20p from every pint sold goes to a LGBQT+ charity. You’ll also find modern classics such as Beavertown’s Gamma Ray on tap. Technically, eating is cheating at this stage, but Woodies’ do bao buns, wings and pies if you want to line your stomach for the journey ahead.
Woodies Craft Ale House, 107 Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS16 5JG.
The Three Horseshoes
It’s natural to feel self-conscious walking into a pub dressed as a bunch of Toy Story characters but trust us, the regulars in The Three Horseshoes won’t bat an eyelid – they’ve seen it all before. This is your second stop, one of Headingley’s oldest pubs and a mere 100 metre or so waddle from Woodies. This stone-built classic has a prime corner spot and limited outdoor seating, but head inside for the atmosphere.
The interior is all dark wood, with a long bar giving you plenty of elbow room. Regular beers include classics such as Tetley’s Bitter, Old Speckled Hen and Leeds Pale, alongside plenty of changing cask ales. There’s also a wide range of spirits but, you know, pace yourself – this is only stop number two. Live music and plenty of sports screens make it a place you’ll have a hard time tearing yourself away from.
The Three Horseshoes, 98 Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS16 5JG.
The New Inn
It might have a name you’ll find at approximately a thousand Leeds pubs, but there’s no mistaking Headingley’s New Inn. With its bay windows looking out on to Otley Road and its very low ceilings – now is the time to take that fancy dress hat off for a few minutes – it’s an atmospheric, old school watering hole and stop number three. You can grab a quick game of pool here, but make sure you don’t dodge your drink.
The bar may have Greene King IPA or Timothy Taylor’s Landlord on cask, while tap options will include lagers such as Peroni, Stella and San Miguel. Modern pale ale drinkers will love the Ice Breaker Pale Ale or Beavertown Neck Oil. There’s also a hefty cider range by the bottle, and copious gins if you plan to fuel your Otley Run with spirits. Need a bite? The house sharing platter will soak up some of the alcohol.
The New Inn, 68 Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 4BA.
The Headingley Taps
There’s a chance to walk off some of those early drinks as you proceed to your next calling point – The Headingley Taps is about half a mile away from The New Inn. It’s a cavernous place that’s ideal for groups, a lively mixture of students and locals – and maybe a few visitors if there’s cricket on at Headingley. With stacks of big screen sports, Saturday afternoons are usually buzzing in here.
As befits the size of the place, the drinks menu is equally massive, with all the draught beers and lagers you could wish for, along with spirits and wines. You’ll be spoiled for choice with the gin menu, while the range of cocktails – from a Pornstar Martini to a Disaronno Fizz – makes for a nice change of pace. Feeling hungry? Mac ‘n’ cheese, gourmet burgers, pizzas and paninis are all perfect pub crawl fodder.
The Headingley Taps, Bennett Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3HN.
This is a real change of pace when it comes to the Otley Run. Step away from the traditional pubs and bars of Headingley into the swish New York vibe of Manahatta. The curved bar delivers glamour galore, there’s tons of mingling room and the lively vibe is ideal for pub crawlers dressed as Where’s Wally, Avengers or Minions. Add in a shuffleboard zone and sports screens and this is a perfect pit-stop.
Drinks-wise, this is a great time to take advantage of Manahatta’s 2-4-1 cocktail deal, which runs all day, every day. Grab yourself a brace of Staten Island Iced Teas or the lively Rhubarb Fizz. They also have beers aplenty on tap and grub to grab while you glug – think club sandwiches, BBQ chicken nachos and a brilliant brunch served until 4pm.
Manahatta, 19 Ash Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3JJ.
The Box is very much a sports bar – it comes alive on game days with big screens and both rugby and cricket fans piling in for an early breakfast before things kick off at Headingley Stadium. It’s also a long-established Otley Run pub with a modern look and some great outdoor tables that are ideal for watching the other Otley Runners come and go in all their fancy dress finery.
There’s table football and pool on offer, a more than decent range of beer and yet more 2-4-1 cocktails, which are on all day Sunday to Friday and until 10pm on Saturday. And if you and your pals are picking up the pace, order a ‘Shot Ski’ – a tray loaded with 12 shots for you to knock back. Looks like you’ll definitely need that 18-inch sharing pizza, then…
The Box, 8 Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2AD.
The Skyrack is a Headingley landmark and only a stone’s throw from The Box. It’s also a key stop off on this pub crawl into Leeds. It’s a Tardis-like place with stacks of room, spilling out into an outside area perfect for al fresco supping. Eating is now officially allowed – nay, encouraged – so get yourself a fish finger sandwich or stupendously good salt beef burger.
Don’t forget to tick off your next drink – you’ve come this far, after all. Abbot and Greene King IPA are on cask, while all the pub staples are present and correct – we’re talking San Miguel, Amstel, Estrella, Camden Hells and Peroni for the lager drinkers, Neck Oil, Ice Breaker and Brewdog Punk IPA for the ale fans. Still on the cocktails? The Skyrack has you covered for those too.
The Skyrack, 2-4 St Michael’s Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 3AW.
The Original Oak
Mere steps away from The Skyrack, The Original Oak beckons you and your fellow runners. The inside is big on space and atmosphere, with a brace of long bars and nooks and crannies aplenty. When the Otley Run is in full flow, you may well want to be outside in the vast beer garden, however. Out-of-towners staggering in from the cricket ground will think they’ve walked into a giant fancy dress shop.
This grand old pub is where you’ll kick off the second half of the run. Beers include the local Leeds Pale, Camden Hells and Pale, Sharp’s Doom Bar and reliable pours from Tetley’s, BrewDog and more. Feeling the need for sustenance? Go for rib-sticking burgers, a mammoth mixed grill or share some wings with a choice of five dips. There’s a separate menu full of veggie and vegan options too.
The Original Oak, 2 Otley Road, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2DG.
The Hyde Park
The tiny trip between the last two pubs may have lulled you into a false sense of security. For The Hyde Park, you’ll need to either catch the bus or grab a breath of fresh air, as it’s a bit of walk down Otley Road. It’s often the place that separates the real runners and riders from the early fallers, with some taking the chance to slink off at this stage.
There’s a scattering of tables outside, while inside has sprightly, white-tiled walls following a makeover. Liquid refreshments comes in the form of lashings of lager, from Birra Moretti through to Heineken, and well-known gems such as Beavertown’s Gamma Ray. Thirsty groups can order up an 8 pint beer tower to wash down beef burnt-end tacos, stone-baked pizzas and peri-peri chicken wings in buckets that can tip the scales at 4kg.
The Hyde Park, 2 Headingley Lane, Headingley, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS6 2AS.
By now, that Homer Simpson outfit you spent so much time on will have seen better days – beer and BBQ sauce stains, stretched cuffs, maybe even a gusset blowout. Worry not, you’re in good company. You’ve reached double figures at The Library, an imposing venue looking out across Hyde Park and the main Leeds University campus. There’s loads of room indoor and out, and this stop-off often comes with live music or DJ soundtrack.
The bar is exceedingly well-stocked – there isn’t much they haven’t got by the bottle, whether it’s gin, rum, cider or beer you want to slake your thirst with. Craft lovers can plough into cans from Tiny Rebel and Fourpure, with an excellent range on tap too. If you’re pacing yourself, there’s cooking lager from the likes of Coors and Carling. Brunch is served all day, while the ‘Angry Topping’ bowl of loaded fries is a must.
The Library, 229 Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 3AP.
With its warm welcome, timeless wood-topped bars and cosy sofas ideal for sinking into, The Packhorse is one of the highlights of the Otley Run. Which, if you’re doing it right, has descended into the Otley Stumble by about this point. You might chance upon live music – this is one of the best pubs in the city in terms of supporting the local scene – but if not, it’s time to give your foam-covered legs a rest.
Rums and gins twinkle seductively on the glass shelves, while the friendly staff pull pints of Landlord, Leeds Pale and Plum Porter, along with the tried-and-trusted session lagers and ciders. If it’s warm out, the beer garden is the perfect place to congregate, or you can try and commandeer the dart board inside. Although, as this is stop 11, that may not be wisest choice you’ve ever made.
The Packhorse, 208 Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9DX.
Step inside The Eldon and you’ll be greeted by a lovely wooden and parquet floor, the sensuous curves of the mahogany bar, and a lively, mixed crowd of students and regulars. This is an unpretentious pub and one that features in many a veteran’s story of their time doing Otley Run. You’ve made it to a dirty dozen, and we’ll drink to that – so will you!
Lager lovers will be in heaven, with the trinity of Carlsberg, Carling and Coors on offer, while BrewDog is also on tap, along with well-poured pints of Guinness, John Smith’s and Landlord. Cider drinkers can choose from a pair of draught Strongbows, with more bottled options in the fridge too. If your cocktail tanks are running low, top up with your choice of draught and frozen concoctions, as well as pitchers for sharing.
The Eldon, 190 Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9DX.
Leeds University Union
While there are two drinking spots at Leeds University Union – Terrace and Old Bar – they only count as one. As your once-strong posse of Otley Runners may be down to the hardcore at this point, take solace in the fact that you only need to get one drink here. Terrace, as the name suggests, has a large outdoor area, as well as an indoor bar for when the weather is less kind – go here for classic cocktails and bar snacks.
Old Bar is a different proposition entirely. Open since 1939, it’s more of a traditional student pub, with a pool table, quizzes and big screens showing the latest sport. They have regular guest beers, but you can usually take your pick of Camden Hells, Stowford Press and more on draught, plus plenty of craft cans. Heck, there’s even Espresso and Passion Fruit Martinis on tap! Need some pub grub? Burgers and sandwiches are the order of the day.
Leeds University Union, Lifton Place, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 9JZ.
Arrive at The Fenton and you’re very much on the home stretch of Otley Run pubs. This is a perennial student favourite and one of the best boozers on the edges of the city. It’s a wonderland of wooden décor inside, with plenty of little rooms and nooks festooned with mahogany and vintage furniture, plus a pool table if you’re still seeing straight. Head out the back and you’ll find a graffiti-covered beer garden with its own sound system.
All this drinking is thirsty work, so sidle up to the bar and marvel at the array – The Fenton is independent, so the choice is always a great one, with an ever-changing range on keg and cask. It might be North Brewing’s suppable Sputnik or punchy Transmission on tap, ideal for rinsing down a bowlful of dirty fries or pulled jackfruit sandwich. With a friendly dog, open mic and live music, this is pretty much the perfect pub.
The Fenton, 161-165 Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 3ED.
The Dry Dock
One of the great things about the Otley Run is that it’s a downhill affair. After all, a 15-stop Leeds pub crawl that was all uphill would be cruel, wouldn’t it? The end is in sight (and nigh) when you reach The Dry Dock. A for-real, no fooling actual ship towed into the heart of the Leeds and turned into a pub, The Dry Dock has gone from major talking point to established favourite.
The spacious upper deck is the place to end the night al fresco, with the other casualties of the day’s drinking strewn around you. Or head downstairs for pool tables, draught Estrella, Beavertown Neck Oil or cocktail pitchers for the last people standing. Okay, so there’s no parade, no medal and no fanfare, but you’ve done it. You’ve completed the Otley Run. Of course, you also need to do it in reverse…
The Dry Dock, Woodhouse Lane, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 3AX.