Sinkhole in Dorset, England
A huge sink hole almost 100ft wide has swallowed a patch of land in Dorset next to a local walking path.

It first emerged in February when a dinner plate-sized hole appeared - the land suddenly collapsed this week and created the enormous pit.

The chasm was caused by the surface of the land collapsing into an ancient hollow created during the last ice age.

Over the past three months it has been monitored by geologists as it gradually increased in size.

However, it dramatically collapsed and created the gaping cavity at Bronkham Hill near Dorchester, Dorset.
Dorset sinkhole in February 2019
The site is next to South Dorset Ridgeway which is part of the South West Coast Path National Trail.

The sink hole has been fenced off and inspected by geologists who believe it has stabilised and will not get any deeper than its 50ft depth.

Russell Goff, Dorset Council's senior countryside ranger, said: 'Since the last ice age glaciers formed and once these melted there were spaces or voids left behind.

Map of Dorset, UK sinkhole
'Over time wind and movement across the surface has eroded the soil above until the void can be seen. Once this happens the matter above the space will eventually collapse into it.'

John Sellgren, director of environmental services at Dorset Council, added: 'When this hole was first reported we took action as we knew it could indicate a chasm of unknown depth. Safety precautions were taken, and an investigation was carried out.

'The sink hole now appears stable and the National Trail is open.'

At Bronkham Hill, part of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), around 200 steep-grass lined pits can be found.

Known as 'elliptical dolines', they are sink holes of the past which have now grassed over.