BUILDING students have been casting an eye over an old mill at one of the country's most popular beauty spots.

Twenty-five students on the HNC Building Studies course at Darlington College of Technology were asked to survey some old mill workers' tied cottages at Aysgarth Falls in the heart of Wensleydale.

The derelict buildings are being considered for redevelopment and the students divided into five teams to come up with site plans and elevations.

Developers David and Ann Kiely will choose the best plans, to be put before the Yorkshire Dales National Park's planning committee.

"The cottages can't have been lived in for more than 40 years," said tutor Les Atkinson, who runs the building course with John Weir.

"There is no water, electricity or sewerage but the structure is there. The students also had to assess car parking and access issues, and were briefed by a member of the National Park authority on what was and wasn't allowed."

The students on the course already have jobs, and come to the college one day a week for a year to gain the qualification.

Mr Atkinson said: "Aysgarth is a live project; the work they carried out there is for real and provided them with valuable experience."

He said the building course was appealing more and more to women, who were starting to recognise the potential of construction as a profession.

"We find women excel at design, architecture and quantity surveying," he said.

"They tend to be more pedantic and precise than men and show real flair."