Why I loved growing up in Headingley

Otley Run? Completed it mate.

Headingley, the sprawling suburbia of Leeds, is known mostly because of the students.

Although it may not seem like it, some of us grow up in a student area, and Headingley is exactly where I spent my early years. Then and now, I appreciate Headingley for its aesthetic, and its student driven insanity.

It motivates you to go to uni

Growing up in Headingley made me quite motivated to get into university. Even before you start considering where you want to go, the sights you see in Headingley are evidence of how crazy it can be in some places. The houses lower your expectations too, although some of them are really nice.

Otley Run

The Otley Run is the best part of student life in Headingley. Its a pub crawl in which you start at the top of Headingley somewhere around the Three Horse Shoes, then you finish up at dry dock opposite Leeds Beckett library. There’s around twenty spots to hit on the Otley Run so it’s quite a heavy trek.

I think it’s safe to say that Headingley does fancy dress the best, and because of the Otley Run there’s always some of it around.

Attempt 1

The Otley Run is a necessary part of Headingley life, I’ve given my liver the bashing twice now and I don’t even go to Uni here (once with college and once with work). The first time we didn’t even make it past The Original Oak, but the walk between here and Hyde Park corner is such a warriors walk.

I grew up around shouting drunk students, it’s a lot better than being surrounded by old people, it has such a fun vibe. Have you really lived in Headingley if you haven’t had your head down the toilet bowl of the Original Oak struggling to crawl onto Hyde Park? Probably not.

Attempt 2: Success

The ‘Offers’

I have been offered drugs so many times living in this area. I remember one time, strolling along, innocent and only just 12, a guy pulls up and asks me if I want any Coke or Pills. Oh you! I was probably close to crapping my pants at the time but I look back with rose tinted glasses, as its probably given me a thicker skin.

Dodgy Parks

Don’t get me wrong, the greenery around the area I’ve grown up has given me some really happy memories of jumping through puddles and playing in summer. There is a dark side though. They all get a little creepy at nighttime, but it’s bound to happen when you’re so close to the city right? Please carry weapons if you’re walking through Hyde Park to get back home in the late hours.

Interactions with Students

For most people, engaging with student life happens primarily when you are one. For me, it was premature, but most of the time it truly spices up your life. I remember one time I went to watch TV in my living room, only to find a drunken confused student napping on my family couch. He got the wrong house somehow, he was a really nice guy, but I reckon it hurt to wake up to my sister screaming when you’ve got a hangover.


Everyone leaves for summer and dumps all the stuff they can’t be bothered to take home with them. I got a jazzy chair and cd player once.

The Hollies looking pretty

Would I be the person I am without Headingley? Definitely not. I mean who else can say they warded away a cruiser in The Hollies in their early teens? It’s given me perspective. Homage is deserved, it’s a cool place to be and there’s always something going on. Headingley is my home, and its student driven wackiness balanced with civilized cafes and restaurants made me into the classy yet tacky person I am today.