Express & Star

Herding sheep in a Bentley – how hard could it be?

It’s not often you see over two tonnes of luxury SUV moving sheep around a field, but that’s what Jack Evans attempted at Goodwoof recently.

Bentley Sheep Herding

Herding sheep is a centuries-old way of moving livestock around. In the UK, shepherds use it to drive a flock from pasture to pasture while checking on the welfare of the animals and giving them somewhere new to graze.

As has been tradition for a long time, this process is usually conducted with one or more well-trained dogs. While some shepherds use quad bikes to herd a flock, it’s always thought that sheepdogs are the most effective way to get the job done. What isn’t often used, however, is a near-£200,000 Bentley Bentayga.

However, at the recent Goodwoof event at the Goodwood Estate near Chichester, West Sussex, we got the opportunity to see how well a car could be used to herd sheep – with a little expert support in the passenger seat. Here’s how it went.

Introduction to an expert

Bentley Sheep Herding
The raised seating of the Bentley gives a good view of the area ahead

Naturally, this car reviewer doesn’t have the best of experience in driving flocks through fields, so it was fortunate to be sat next to one of the very best in the business. Aled Owen from Corwen, North Wales, is an expert sheepdog handler and has several awards for his ability to control a flock with a dog.

While we’d be relying on a trained sheepdog for a little extra assistance when needed, it would be the job of the Bentley to ‘act’ as the canine in this situation with Aled guiding us on where we’d need to place the car to move the sheep along effectively.

Moving off in silence

Bentley Sheep Herding
The Bentley sails along behind the flock

The car we’re behind the wheel of is the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid, which combines a V8 engine with an electric motor and batteries. Bentley says that it can drive for up to 25 miles on electric power alone, too, though when you combine petrol and electric power it’ll manage 158mph flat-out – though that top speed seems a little overboard given our task.

Fortunately, the Bentayga’s raised ground clearance is more than enough to cover the rutted field we’re in. The last thing we want is to get beached in front of hundreds of visitors to the Goodwoof festival.

Pulling up on the sheep

Bentley Sheep Herding
The hybrid Bentayga can travel on electric only power

A flock of 20 sheep lies ahead and from the off, it’s easy to see the challenge involved in getting them to move where you’d like. Aled tells us to move from left to right initially as we try to move towards a gate situated at the top of the hill. It’s funny how narrow an otherwise quite large gap becomes when you’ve got to drive a whole load of sheep through it.

We’ve got quite a pleasantly raised seating positon in the Bentayga, which gives us a good view of the area ahead over the heads of the sheep and beyond.

A successful gate

Bentley Sheep Herding
The sheep channel together to get through a gate

Bentayga moving quietly ahead, the sheep do take notice of the big SUV but a few honks of the horn are used to encourage them on. It ties together nicely and we somehow manage to get the entire flock through a gate. The dog had been called back, too, in order to leave the car to its own devices. We had some suspicions that this was done to see what type of chaos might ensue but, in fact, the Bentley did a far better job than expected.

We turn around to bring the sheep back down the hill, zig-zagging in the process. The next gate is far less successful; the sheep are getting far wiser to the car than before and start to fan out despite our best encouragements.

The dog is called in

Bentley Sheep Herding
Trained sheepdogs lay in wait

As the sheep start to get a little more confident around the Bentley, Aled lets our a piercing whistle to bring one of the waiting sheepdogs into play. It races towards the flock, bringing it all together before pushing carefully back into their pen.

It had been quite the experience – and a little more successful than you might think – but we reckon Aled isn’t going to be swapping out his faithful sheepdog for a four-wheeled alternative any time soon.

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