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Leeds author Joe Williams celebrates city’s best-known tradition, The Otley Run, with book launch

By Adele Lyth

A Leeds poet has published a verse novella celebrating one of the city’s best-known traditions.

Author Joe Williams from Headingley has written a verse novella which captures the experience of doing the Otley Run through 15 poems.

The verse novella “The Otley Run”

The Otley Run is done by hundreds of people every weekend, and involves groups and individuals in fancy dress visiting 15 pubs along the Otley Road.

People often dress up in fancy dress and coordinate to a theme such as superheroes, dinosaurs and Peaky Blinders.

The pub crawl starts at Woodies Ale House in Headingley and runs all the way to Leeds City Centre with the Dry Dock being the final pub.

Author Joe Williams said: “The first time I heard of the Otley Run pub crawl was in the late nineties shortly after moving to Leeds, as a student.

“It has been many years since I’ve attempted the Otley Run, but I do make the occasional visit, at least, to many of its pubs, as I’ve lived in or near Headingley for most of the last 25 years. I see a lot of these people doing the Run.

“I always thought: What are these people’s stories? Could I make some of those stories, into a book and from that I created this book, An Otley Run.”

The verse novella follows two people doing the Otley Run.

The Otley Run has been around for many years, with it evolving into one of the city’s best-known tradition.

Originally, known as the Headingley Mile, the event now counts 15 participating pubs:  Woodies, Three Horseshoes, New Inn, Headingley Taps, Arc, The Box, Skyrack, Original Oak, Hyde Park, The Library, Packhorse, The Eldon, Old Bar, The Terrace, The Fenton, Strawberry Fields, Dry Dock.

The Otley Run Map

Allan Ware, landlord of the Woodies Ale House, said: “The Otley Run is fantastic for pubs around here, constantly busy with groups of coming in and out. It’s just great for the business side of things.

“I love seeing some of the costumes I see, like they are all varied, just shows the character of people and in pubs that’s what you go in for – a laugh, and the atmosphere, and being in fancy dress. I believe that brings the Otley Run alive.

“Fancy dress makes the Otley Run so special compared to any other pub crawls around Yorkshire.”

Williams has written the book to show non-Leeds family and friends, the understanding of this tradition and why it must be something everyone should do when visiting Leeds.

Macey Logan, 20, student at Leeds Beckett University said: “As a student I think the whole idea of the Otley Run is such a fun idea.

“Getting together with all your friends and having a laugh is literally what I think the university experience is all about and The Otley Run is exactly that – a fun experience.

“Do recommend anyone that hasn’t do the Otley Run to get down to the local fancy dress shop and go and gather your group of mates and just have a fun, drunken day.”

To purchase the verse novella, An Otley Run, by Joe Williams click here.

Top 10 Best Otley Run Fancy Dress

  1. Spice Girls
  2. Superheroes
  3. Peaky Blinders
  4. Wild Animals
  5. Police Officers and Robbers
  6. Grandads and Grandmas
  7. Decade themed attire
  8. Fruit
  9. Sea Animals
  10. Men dressing as girls and girls dressing as men

Top 5 tips on how to do the Otley Run

  1. Treat it like an operation – The Otley Run consists of 15 pubs so it isn’t going to be easy! So make sure you are completely organised and just be prepared to drink A LOT!

       2. Always dress up – It’s the best thing about the Otley Run apart from the beer so don’t be boring, always go the extra mile with the     outfits too its more fun that way.

3. Wear sensible shoes – Remember you are walking from Headingley to the centre of town. That’s a good 30 minute walk and after a few drinks you could possibly find it more difficult.

4. Stick to one drink at each pub – You want to make it to the end and thinking about it, 15 pints is a lot.  So just be sensible and drink one pint per pub.

5.Don’t step into Arcadia- Arcadia is the only pub on the Otley Road that actually doesn’t allow fancy dress so stay clear of that one.


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