Fresh air and good beer – it’s a heady combination. There are plenty of pubs in Leeds like the Adelphi and Midnight Bell – fine pubs that they are – that provide pleasant and sizeable outside drinking areas, but due to their location can’t quite pull off the idyllic setting that immediately transports you to al fresco drinking on holiday.
There are others, however, that have a man-made or serendipitous outside drinking area they exploit to their fullest.
Belgrave Music Hall
Few establishments in Leeds city centre exude such care and attention from every nook and cranny as the Belgrave, and this extends upwards to their famous rooftop terrace which offers a pop-up Central Park-esque escape from the throbbing metropolis below. Deckchairs line the artificial grass and the copious decking provides plenty of space for thirsty fresh air-seekers. The Belgrave are also partial to the odd rooftop party and barbecue, so keep an eye out.
A long-established bar in the Brewery Wharf development at the bottom end of town, Oracle offers its extensive waterside drinking area as one of its many enticing features. The curved bank of recess seating borders the Leeds-Liverpool Canal and the footbridge from The Calls and it's a sun trap in the afternoon and early evening and provides welcome refuge from the party as the night gets more lively.
One of the most attractive outdoor areas in Leeds has for many years been at Calls Landing. If you're lucky, a single table for two on the quaint and romantic balcony allows you to sit above the soothing flow of the canal below, but adjacent to the building is a large picnic-bench area that hums with chatter on a summers’ afternoon while life slows down a pace.
There are many things to applaud about the enterprise of Kirkstall Brewery in establishing this, their expertly-restored two storey pub, not least of which is the garden outside. Overlooking the river, which affords endlessly tempting pooh sticks opportunities, and the famous bridge, you can use the picnic benches, the banks of grass, or even hire a marquee for special events.
If you really want to be at one with nature while supping a fine ale, then the Rodley Barge – which you can also see in the main image at the top – may be as close as you can legally and safely get. You can almost touch the water of the canal as you sip from a good range of guest ales in this authentic, family-owned, freehold pub. The beer garden isn’t huge, in fact it’s a yard with four or five benches in it, but the opportunity to relax in inner-city tranquillity while barges chug past an arms’ length away is one you should definitely take.
OK, we all know that Whitelocks is older than time itself, but it's probably not particularly famous for its outside drinking. The narrow "loin" between Briggate and what is now a side-entrance to the Trinity Centre is lined with benches which provide a unique escape from the bustle of the city centre. Cool and calming, the area can be a hidden hubbub of chatter on a summer’s afternoon with slithers of sunshine from above providing a distinctive atmosphere.
Bankhouse Inn, Pudsey
A short ramble out to west Leeds is an absolute must to appreciate the external beauty of this traditional pub and the splendour of the views from its grassy beer garden. The sweeping valleys and rolling greenery is laid out before you as the narrow lanes present you at the door of this friendly pub, frequented by cyclists and trekkers. A countryside refuge seeped in Yorkshire air.
The Pour House, Water Lane
Waterside drinking rarely gets more pacifying than a trip to The Pour House on Water Lane. The former restaurant has been converted into an airy bar that has the ripple of water constantly projected onto its exposed brick walls and timber beams. But the outside seating area, both at the front and to the side, offers an escape from the nearby city centre – a canal-side retreat in which to unwind.
Angelica’s, Trinity Centre
Once you've actually found Angelica's – access if via the separate lift next to Botanist, you can’t access it from within the Trinity Centre – you'll discover a spacious, Ibiza-inspired outdoor seating area that makes it the most sophisticated bar in Trinity. Sofas and pine trees line the rooftop area, which hovers above the distinctive Trinity dome and buzzes on a sunny afternoon. The lamp heaters come in handy at night too when the outside terrace can be just as lively.
Original Oak, Headingley
This Headingley stalwart is a haven for every occasion, but particularly in the sunny months when its former bowling green accommodates a sea of drinkers. Arguably the biggest beer garden in Leeds, it provides an outlet from the Oak’s myriad rooms, alcoves and corridors, and has an atmosphere that complements the supercharged vivacity of Headingley life.
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