So when we were given this month’s CitySlicker task the first thing that sprang to mind as something that made me instantly think of Leeds, was the Otley Run. It is the first thing you are introduced to when you move here as a student, and it is the place where a lot of bonding takes place!
When I first moved to Leeds as a student in 2004, the first thing all the freshers were keen to do was get out on a fancy dress pub crawl known as the Otley Run. It was only ten days before I donned a suitable “chav” outfit and embarked on my first one with my new friends from my university halls of residence. This was a great chance to get to know everyone and the area North of the University.
Of course when I told Dave that I was going to write this month’s article about this Leeds tradition, and he mentioned that he had never embarked on an Otley run in the 8 years he has lived here, I just had to rectify this immediately, for research of course! Although tradition dictates we should have dressed up, we decided people might take us a bit more seriously for photos if we went dressed down as it were.
The name Otley run comes from the fact that the pub crawl takes place on the Otley Road, which runs from North of Leeds in Otely, all the way to the city centre, passing through the heart of student-ville on the way. Obviously the pub crawl doesn’t start all the way in Otley, as I think 10 miles would be a stretch too far! It actually starts at Woodies Ale House, about 4 miles North of central Leeds in an area known as far Headingley. Woodies is a quiet bar normally, although when we went there were a few Otley runs starting out, and the boxing was being shown on the TV.
Then it was off to another 2 of Far Headingley’s traditional pubs – The Three Horseshoes and The New Inn. These were a lot more lively, with Karaoke in one, and a ton of people in fancy dress in both of them. This is where we met most of the lovely folk who posed for a photo for us, who were in various fancy dress themes. It all started with a man dressed as an inflatable penis (I think it was his stag do!)
In fact there were quite a lot of people on a stag do that night, including one man dressed as Snow White who had been hand-cuffed by his “mates” to a dwarf (also one of his mates!).
After these pubs are done, it is just a short walk into the main part of Headingley, where there are a number of pubs and trendy bars, with tradition dictating that everyone in your group ought to have one drink in each before moving on to the next.
Then it is either a long walk (if you are a skint student), a bus journey (an average student) or a £5 taxi fare (if, like us, you are just old and lazy now) to Hyde Park, where the next few pubs are situated. These are my favourite pubs, as they are close to the University and the places I spent most time as a student (apart from lectures obviously!). Again there are always people here in fancy dress, ready to pose for a photo.
These pubs also give you an opportunity to discuss where you are going to end your evening, if you are still standing. My personal preference would be Fab Cafe – my favourite night club ever, but once you hit central Leeds, there are a ton of options!
If you are moving to Leeds, already live in Leeds or are just visiting Leeds, then give the Otley run a try as it is a great way to see all the best bars in a short period of time. And of course if you need a tour guide – I am sure I could manage to do it all again!