Guide to ‘traditional’ Leeds pubs with lots of character

Original Oak, Headingley.
Original Oak, Headingley.
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Check out our at-a-glance guide to ‘traditional’ Leeds pubs with bags of character.

With the pub now under the same ownership as new wave London brewer Five Points, it should be no surprise that at least part of the operation has now embraced the fast-changing culture of drinking.

A year-and-a-half after opening its doors, the Turk’s Head remains a distinctive little treat of a pub.

It was the former top bar of neighbouring Whitelock’s – the oldest pub in Leeds – now serving as a sister venue and function room.

Original Oak, Headingley

The Original Oak should be in a category all its own. It’s a victim of its own success in some ways in that it probably wouldn’t be first choice for a quiet drink.

But this is down to geography, it being situated pretty much at the end of the first leg of the infamous Otley Run, the bar crawl which begins at Woodies in Far Headingley and struts its stuff (usually in ridiculous fancy dress) all the way into town, ending at The Dry Dock. Given the Otley Run is pretty much a daily occurrence, it’s hard to look at the Original Oak as anything other than a pub which is almost always under the influence of this rite of passage. That said, the atmosphere is great and you are guaranteed to find a seat in their extensive beer garden.

The Fenton, Woodhouse Lane.

It’s a short walk along from the Dry Dock along Woodhouse Lane. A former Tetley pub, the owners are clearly proud of its heritage. Indeed, it’s almost as though the past shakes your hand and wishes you well on the way in, with deeply polished wooden bar surround and panelled siderooms.

The place is wreathed in history. The welcome from the bar staff was warm, friendly and assured.

At the bar you can expect to find Northern Monk’s Eternal (4.1 per cent), the curiously named Love Over Gold (another 4.1 per center) and Abbeydale Brewery’s imposing Salvation (4.7 per cent) to mention but three.

The Griffin, Boar Lane, Leeds

What a joy, what a sight: it is the very epitome of understated sophistication. Vertiginous ceilings supported by various tiled columns, with a subtle moonshadow blue wash on the walls, interspersed by bursts of delicately patterned wallpaper. Burnished wood draws you toward the bar and as you move, you cross the chequered tile floor, only to be greeted by a mesmerising array of beers: East Coast IPA, Yardbird Pale Ale, Punk IPA, Vedetti, Blue Moon Belgian White, Old Speckled Hen, I could go on. Service is as polished and spotless as the wooden bartop.