Pilgrim On The Pennine Way


I heartily agree with Jon when he says, “A great song that binds the layers of history together. It’s well worth seeking out the original Pete Coe recording with its massed voices and brass. Marvellous!” Stirring stuff indeed, but curiously elusive and although Pete has a website, it’s not the best and lacks vital information on track listings for his various CDs. Apart from that, there’s nothing of substance that I can find on this, which is a shame. It backs up the fact that despite a long and active professional career he may not have had the exposure he deserves. Sad to say that it also appears that some of his work is caught up in contract disputes, so good luck in tracking this down.


36 Responses to “Pilgrim On The Pennine Way”

  1. Joe Offer says:

    I haven’t found any information on this song. Is Pete Coe the songwriter, or just the first person known to have recorded the song?

    -Joe Offer-

  2. Reinhard (Hamburg, Germany) says:

    The official title of this song is The Pennine Way and it’s currently available on Pete Coe’s CD Previous. This CD is a compilation of his two LPs “Mean Old Scene” (Backshift BASH 39, 1985) and “A Right Song and Dance” (Backshift BASH 43, 1989). The Pennine Way seems to be from the second LP. The tracklist in the above link attributes the song to Pete Coe, too.

  3. Shelley says:

    A fantastic song, and another new one to me. It would fit in well with material from Jon’s “Songs from the Floodplain” album.

  4. Jim Lawton says:

    Well, I don’t want to demur on the titling, but this song was (at least originally) titled “None So Steady” – and so it appears, for instance on Pete’s CD “Long Company” (Backshift Music BASH CD45). If you Google for it with that title and Pete’s name there are plenty of hits.
    I learned this song back in 1998, when I had an email conversation with Sue Coe about it. She told me that the “Norman Cross” mentioned is actually a subtle “thank you” message to a real person of that name.

  5. Thanks Jim for the correction. I guesstimated what I wrote from what I found by googling. I have since then bought both “It’s a Mean Old Scene” and “A Right Song and Dance” at eBay and will be able to check my presumptions in about 10 days.

  6. Simon says:

    Thanks Jim / Reinhard, although I still can’t find anything meaningful searching under None So Steady.

  7. Barbara Brown says:

    Well, Pete simply calls it ‘The Pennine Way’ on his ‘Previous’ CD. Can’t check the LP it came from – tucked away in a cupboard somewhere.

  8. Jim Lawton says:

    No, you are right Simon, these are the hits I got http://bit.ly/dXeLY0 but I was over-optimistic, they are mostly track-listings. What sort of thing were you wanting to know? Pete Coe now lives in the Ryburn Valley west of Halifax, and the song refers literally and metaphorically to the landscape of the area, and to the hardships of living there, past and present. The landscape has seen hill farmers come and go, and industry – in particular the spinning and weaving of wool, wax and wane. A few miles further South the steel industry also wanes against the foothills of the Pennines. Through it all, the dry stone walls remain, indestructable, unemployed, immutable in the face of change, stretching way up far beyond the tree line, far out onto the bleak moorland where there really are Roman roads, Celtic signs, Norman crosses and all the rest. The people who lived, and still do live in the area pride themselves on their “grit” and the stone itself is called “millstone grit”. Hope this is of some help.

  9. Jim Lawton says:

    Barbara, this suggests that “Pennine Way” is a different song
    ” ‘None So Steady’ which has Pete writing again of his adopted home, the Ryburn valley. It’s a natural follow-on to “The Pennine Way” which featured on his last album” (Mel Howley)

  10. Simon says:

    Thanks Jim, I like to get some extra detail into the story of the song, either historically or in this case where the author is alive and known, it seems fair to give him due credit. I whole heartedly agree with Jon that this is a fine song and you’ve given it both local colour and an extra hook with the personal reference to Norman Cross. I’m most grateful.

  11. John Bryson says:

    First time I’ve come across this, and I think it’s a great song so well performed by Jon

  12. Nick Passmore says:

    A brilliant song, and completely new to me too! I was wondering about the author: seemed reminiscent of Dick Gaughan or Andy Irvine in its sentiments, but clearly the wrong area geographically speaking. Good man, Pete Coe! I agree with Shelley’s comment about its kinship with the material on “Songs from the Floodplain”. And beautifully delivered by John with fire and passion.

  13. StephenH says:

    Great stuff! Another one to add to the “must learn” list.

  14. i can confirm that it is indeed on ‘Previous’, where it’s credited as ‘The Pennine Way’. ‘None So Steady’, from the ‘Long Company’ CD is an entirely different song. But one that would suit Jon’s voice, i’d venture to suggest…

  15. Rich says:

    wish i could find some lyrics to this i’d love to learn this one! they should post lyrics along with the songs on this site they really should

  16. Reinhard says:

    Rich, here is my first try at a transcription of The Pennine Way. THere are probably errors, especially with the names of persons and places, and I appreciate any corrections.

  17. Kasper says:

    Reinhard, thanks for the transcription. I had a go at it earlier listening to both the Jon Boden and Pete Coe versions. Aside from some small differences between Pete Coe and Jon Boden, I’m not quite sure about this bit:
    And heaven was a factory that worked at well by our day,
    I think Pete Coe sings ‘a twelve hour day’, but I’m not sure on what Jon Boden’s singing there.
    There’s also an extra verse on the Pete Coe version:

    Marching to glory with with a dead regard we pray(?)
    Just another pilgrim on the Pennine way
    Will General Ludd return again to fight another day
    Just another pilgrim on the Pennine way
    That’s the price of progress, it’s tough if you can’t pay
    Just another pilgrim on the Pennine way
    The future is uncertain, are these the good old days
    Just another pilgrim on the Pennine way

  18. Reinhard says:

    Yes, it’s ‘a twelve hour day’, Kasper. Thanks to muzza who corrected this and half a dozen other bloopers. On line is still dubious, though: ‘The cotton lords of Lancashire saw the mill girls only night’. Does someone have better ears than I? Or can you help, Jon, please?

  19. Kasper says:

    All unite, perhaps? I forgot to mention that one.

  20. Reinhard says:

    Thanks Kasper!

  21. Jane Ramsden says:

    Love it, as anyone would expect of a Yorkshire woman, a mere stone’s throw from Halifax! Millstone grit, indeed. I might take umbrage at the dry stone walls being classed as unemployed though. They’re definitely not!

  22. Jane Ramsden says:

    And thanks to Pierre Walsh for his copy of Pete Coe’s ‘Backbone’ – another new experience to listen to – I’ll get roundtuit!

  23. ramblingbob says:

    A bit late, I know, but has anyone noticed the tune’s similarity to ‘The Battle of Sowerby Bridge’, popular in the West Yorkshire folk clubs of the 1970s?

  24. Diana says:

    Wonderful stuff – the Pennine Way passes very near where I live and many stretches have been walked in all weathers and there is a lot of rain around here.

    @ Jane – I was worried about you, thought your computer has finally given up the ghost as Peter suggested, but glad you are back on board. Like you I often look up things on the internet and other areas and really thought I had come up with something original – really disappointed to find I was completely up the wall.

    Thanks for keeping the answer quiet, although I am sure Reynard will solve the riddle – it is a bit pathetic isn’t it, but then I do hae a silly sense of humour and it rather tickled me.

  25. Diana says:

    Oops – the JaJoDi strikes again! There is the “V” again only missing this time.

  26. Dainer says:

    Muzza how did yesterdays “mumming” go? Its been a few days since we have heard anything from you – hope all is ok. Have left a few messages for you having caught up with some of your exploits.

  27. Jane Ramsden says:

    I have tried in vain to find Pete Coe singing this song somewhere on YouTube, but there are many other videos of him, esp at Shepley Spring Festival last year, where I think Bellowhead also appeared.

    @ Diana: My old pc did pack in entirely last year and I was AF-SAD for some weeks! Took me ages to catch up on the swishy new Toshiba laptop. Touch wood, that is showing no signs of going west this year!

  28. Diana says:

    @ Jane – glad to see your getting to grips with your new laptop. I am still on a Dell computer which functions quite well (cross fingers) but I believe that a laptop is the way to go – being portable which doesn’t mean sitting in a cold room sometimes when the heating has gone off. Like the touch about AF-SAD I bet you were.

  29. muzza (N.W Surrey) says:

    @Daina……..12th night (6Jan) mummers trip went well traipsing round six pubs to bemuse jolly folk trying to enjoy a quiet evening out!…As the narrator…I had the unenviable task of bursting into the pub and in colourful “Over the top ” language ..prepare them for the play to follow.
    The last pub contained ‘5o young people’ celebrating a birththday party ……friendly chaos ensued as they jostled, shouted,wielded a battery of mobile phone cameras and bodily joined in with the characters as the play unfolded….what play!……to them it was a load of old blokes tarting around in funny clothes….a great end to the evening as they borrowed the clothes to impress their friends and sent phots around the internet…………I got to bed at 2am!…phew…roll on St.George’s day.
    The landlord commented that Friday was usually ‘A quiet night!’

  30. Diana says:

    I like this – very great song.

  31. Linda says:


  32. Old Muzza(NW Surrey.UK says:

    Thank goodness I haven’t got to tramp round a load of pubs tonight with the mummer’s play……having retired from morris I can just part the sitting room curtains and laugh at the fog……..do miss the lads though.

  33. Pete Coe says:

    I can hereby confirm that I wrote both the Pennine Way & it’s follow up song None So Steady. Jon does indeed miss out my final reprise verse for Pennine Way, quoted in an earlier post. Pennine Way is still available on my CD Previous & None So Steady on my CD Long Company. Those complaining that I & my songs are elusive should get out more, I’ve been on the road 46 years as a professional musician & I’m not that hard to locate via email & website. Look & you will find.
    An amusing sequel to all this is that Billy Bragg & Frank Turner sang the song together a couple of years ago at Wilton’s Music Hall in London as part of a campaign for housing, crediting Jon Boden as author! It was Jon who told me about this with an apology & another apology came from Billy when I corrected his mistake. I still sing it too.

  34. OldMuzza(NW Surrey UK) says:

    Here is Pete’s link https://www.petecoe.co.uk/

  35. Jane (Maryland) says:

    Thanks for posting the link, Muzza!
    While searching online just now I came across a new project, inspired by AFSAD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzfrum9m5KI

  36. OldMuzza(NW SurreyUk) says:

    Hey..Jane (Maryland) good to see you still out there…thanks for the link

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