The Otley Run
Forget initial ideas about starting in Otley, it means another 5 miles or so to walk and about another 12 pubs. Stick to the tried and tested route of Woodies down into town, or vice versa if you're living at Bodington Halls. Depending on the route you take you'll visit between 10 and 16 bars before you hit town.
Before we start we better go over the rules. Quite simple really, guys drink a pint of Lager, Bitter or Cider in each pub, girls drink ½ pint of Lager, Bitter or Cider except the first and last pubs when they must drink full pints like the guys). Got that? Good, lets get started.
For the sake of simplicity we'll start at Woodies and work our way down. It's a good idea to get to the first pub about 3-4pm in the afternoon, to give you plenty of time to do most of the pubs and still get down to town to go clubbing.
1 - Woodies
Woodies is a great pub. A good mix of locals and students, and a great atmosphere when the rugby is on. Remember this is the first of up to 16 pubs so take it easy. From experience Bitter goes down better than Lager after the first few pints as you don't get so bloated. Alternatively just pick whatever comes up on the spin the wheel behind the bar. Right sup that down and then it's on to the Three Horseshoes.
2 - Three Horseshoes
Located conveniently right next door to Woodies, this should be your second stop. Generally has more of a local feel, and they are into their rugby league in a big way. The temptation is to neck the first couple of pints to save time, but take it easy. You'll start catching up all those eager freshers about the Original Oak anyway.
3 - O'Hagans New Inn
O'Hagans (used to be just the New Inn) is an Irish themed pub. Wooden floors and the smallest gap around a pool table you're ever seen in your life. Good atmosphere, just don't go mad. The last of the first three pubs on the run. It's a bit of a walk to the next, so make sure you use the toilet if need be. By now you should be into the swing of things, and all being well you'll leave O'Hagans about 1:30hr after you started.
4 - Arc
This is where the decisions start, as you're walking down through Headingley you can either make a short detour down towards Headingley Stadium and include the Arc and Headingley Taps, or push on through Headingley to the SkyRack. The decision, as they say, is yours. Don't know much about the Arc, it's a new bar rather than a pub and looks quite futuristic with it's glass front and open plan design. If you know more about it, add a comment at the end of the article. I'd be interested to hear more.
5 - Headingley Taps
Full of the Leeds Rhinos and cricket crowd when they are playing at Headingley, decent Bass pub that does good food at lunchtimes, especially on a Sunday. Grab a quick pint and head on through Headingley to try and catch up with the slackers who missed these two pubs out.
6 - Skyrack
Over the years there has been much rivalry between the Skyrack and the Original Oak opposite. The general consensus is that the Skyrack is more popular with Leeds Met and the Original Oak is more popular with the Leeds Uni crowd. That said this is a good pub, plenty of students about all the time and a few pool tables to keep you busy over your pint.
7 - Original Oak
It's literally a stone's throw away from the Skyrack so you shouldn't have too much trouble getting here. Word of warning, don't run across the road in front of the traffic - people are always getting knocked down here - and it's generally drunken students coming out of the Oak and the Skyrack. The Oak is a superb pub, especially in the Summer when you can site outside on what used to be the old bowls green and enjoy and pint and some BBQ'ed food. Right now though we have to press on as it's a long walk to the next pub. You can get the bus down to Hyde Park corner if you like, but in the spirit of the Otley Run you should walk, plus with up to 7 pints inside you it's a perfect opportunity to try and pull on the walk down to the Hyde Park. Many a student has 'disappeared' on this stretch, only to be seen coming out of someone else's room the morning after. Good luck.
8 - Hyde Park
So if you've made it this far you're in the second half of the Otley Run. The Hyde Park is a big spacious pub with plenty of pool tables and a bustling atmosphere, especially at the weekends. If you're lucky you may even site a chair after your long walk, if not don't worry, all the remaining pubs are close together. Depending on who many pubs you've visited, it'll now be about 4hrs into the run. So if you took my advice and started at 3pm, it'll be about 7pm, if you started later, you'll have to get a move on to make it to the end before closing time. With that in mind lets press on.
9 - Library (formally Feast & Firkin)
The old Feast and Firkin was one of the most popular student pubs in Leeds, and despite it's change of name it still is. Next to the back of the University and Hyde Park, you'll often find students and lecturers enjoying a quick pint on the way home, and at night it get extremely busy. Big long wooden tables and benches make it great for big groups of people, and there is plenty of space to stagger around.
10 - Bricklayers Arms
Decision time again I'm afraid. Depending of time, either cross over from the Library and follow the slip road off to the left for about 100m. When you pass the "Harrison and Potter Trust" building on your right, take the next right as the road kinks and the pub is about 30m down on your right hand side. A reasonable pub, and used to be quite cheap, popular with people in the Halls next door - and a bit off the beaten track so makes a change sometimes from the usual student places.
11 - Pack Horse
Back to the run proper now, and you'll getting towards the end now. The Pack Horse is an old fashioned pub just opposite the Engineering Department of the university. Generally does a decent range of hand pulled beers and is quite cosy in the winter. You'll often find university societies meeting in the Pack Horse or Eldon during the week.
12 - Eldon
Right next door to the Pack Horse so at least it's not too long to walk. A fairly nondescript pub, but good for a quick pint after lectures. By now you should be ready to either give up, or go clubbing, but before that we've just got a couple more pubs to go.
13 - The Old Bar
For many this will be the end of the Otley Run. The Old Bar was famous for being the longest bar in Europe (96 pulleys on the one bar I seem to remember) and one of 4 bars in the Leeds University Union. It's always packed out on a Friday, Saturday and Wednesday night, but the beer is very cheap (well what did you expect?!) and the atmosphere good. One word of warning though - don't mess with the bouncers at the union, they've been know to be a little carefree with their use of the boot!
14 - Fenton
For those brave enough to continue on into town, we arrive at the Fenton. It's a nice enough little pub, right next door to Strawberry Fields (as you can see in the photos). Never seems to be that popular with the students, not sure why. Anyway nip in here and grab a pint, you're almost home now.
15 - Strawberry Fields
One of the more contentious inclusions, most people don't count Strawberry Fields in the run for two reasons, 1) it's not really a pub, more of a bar, 2) you can't get a decent pint. However, look at it this way, "It's still only 10pm, so may as well nip in for a cheap double.
16 - Dry Dock
Congratulations, the last pub on the extended run and quite a novelty one at that. The Dry Dock 's an old coal barge that has been cut away at one side and extended to make a decent sized pub. Very popular with the Leeds Met crowd (it's just opposite the campus) and also with anyone on their way out on a night. Oh and one more thing, I used to work there!
If you're made it this far, well done. Just one more thing to do and that's the Poly Bop on a Saturday, perfect for rounding off the Otley Run on a Saturday. Just remember folks, it's a long way back to bod!