FARMER Ken Saddington is having to stop vehicles travelling on to his land after subsidence caused gullies up to 14ft deep to open up.

The 72-year-old said the holes - one of which is close to a popular right of way - are deep enough for him to climb into by ladder.

He is also warning walkers going on to his land at Carlton Bank Stud, near Stokesley, North Yorkshire, to beware of the hazards.

The ever-deepening trenches have appeared over the months along the line of an all-weather cross country track installed for his horses which has collapsed.

Mr Saddington said: "I was told I was going to have the best cross country track in the North and I have ended up with the most dangerous."

The stud was hit by an escape of 1,500 gallons of diesel oil almost five years ago, when contractors were working to repair erosion to Carlton Bank, which is next to the stud.

Mr Saddington links the subsidence to the spill, rather than water erosion. Specialists sent in by Hambleton District Council collected soil samples from the farm last month.

Solicitors acting for Mr Saddington and his wife, Heather, have served a writ on HJ Banks, of West Cornforth, County Dur-ham, which has admitted responsibility for the spill, caused when a storage tank overturned in June 1998.

Seven of the Saddingtons' horses suffered with sores and dermatitis after they wandered into a contaminated stream and bog on the land.

Mrs Saddington said: "We are hoping to get to court as soon as possible. They (HJ Banks) have not offered anything in the way of a settlement.''

HJ Banks, which has previously said it was aware of Mr Saddington's concerns and stated it wanted to reach a settlement with the Saddingtons, made no comment last night.