Did you know that there’s a world-renowned eco centre in the heart of Wales? The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), sat within the stunning UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere in Mid Wales, has been engaging with the public on environmental solutions and sustainable living for over 40 years. Now, with the world waking up to the human impact on our changing climate, CAT’s work is more important than ever.
Meet the staff
Rob Bullen, the centre’s marketing officer, has worked at CAT for around two and a half years.
“I feel really proud to be working for such an inspirational organisation with colleagues who deeply care about our planet,” says Rob.
CAT’s got an exciting future; we’re constantly looking to develop the visitor experience and have some big plans in the pipe-line at a time where the world needs it most.”
Here are five things people love about visiting CAT, according to Rob:
1. It teaches you about sustainable living
Going to CAT is an environmental pilgrimage for some people. Our core messaging around sustainable living inspires, informs and enables individuals to make positive changes in their lives, whether that means small tweaks in home energy use or even inspiring career changes.
Interactive displays, working examples, guided tours and trails all demonstrate practical solutions in easy-to-understand ways. For those looking for more than a fun day out, there’s a free information service for asking specific questions and CAT offers a wide range of short courses ranging from ‘build a tiny house’ through to nature connection and woodland management. Our brand new exhibition, ‘Living Wales’, showcases earth observation from cutting-edge satellite technology, revealing the state of the Welsh landscape in real time through interactive displays.
2. CAT is a great day out for all ages
CAT is a fun place to bring the whole family, with plenty to keep the kids happy and loads of interesting displays for older generations. Seasonal events bring CAT to life for the little ones, with events ranging from den building and nature spotting to seasonal crafts and energy workshops.
Our beautiful organic gardens are also a firm favourite. There are plenty of helpful tips to take away with you, ranging from composting and seed saving to container gardening ideas and wildlife friendly practices.
3. The surroundings are breathtaking
Being in the heart of the Dyfi Biosphere, on the edge of Snowdonia National Park and in the stunning Dulas Valley, CAT’s location couldn’t be more ideal. There’s an abundance of wildlife at CAT; the once-empty quarry up in the hills is now filled with woodland and the meadow and gardens provide ideal habitats for nature.
Surrounding CAT are 18 acres of sustainably managed woodlands that visitors can enjoy on the Quarry Trail. Spectacular views across the valley appear as you work your way up the path and the views of the top of the local mountain – Tarren y Gesail – makes the incline well worth it!
4. The ride there is epic
How many places of interest have you been to with a dedicated uphill railway? To reach CAT, visitors take a ride up on one of Europe’s steepest water-balanced cliff railways. Powered by nature, it makes use of water that flows from the reservoir at the top of the Quarry Trail to the Dulas River at the bottom. You emerge through the trees to views over the lush green countryside before arriving at the centre to continue your adventure.
5. The centre has a fascinating 40-year history
CAT was founded in the 1970s by inspirational people who wanted to explore eco-friendly ways of living and working. It has since welcomed thousands of like-minded and creative people from all walks of life to come and be a part of this exciting project. We actually have volunteers who come from all over the world to have life-changing experiences working in the gardens or woodlands teams while living on site.
The CAT site itself used to be a redundant slate quarry called Llwyngwern Quarry, near Machynlleth. What was once a barren area of slate tip has been transformed into an amazingly abundant landscape of varied habitats. The site has been a test-bed for all sorts of renewable technologies and eco ideas, ranging from early renewable energy installations to chemical free growing and cooperative community structures.
Discover how you can 'join the change' and find out about CAT's research, on-going work, workshops and sustainability courses on the Centre for Alternative Technology website.
Keep up with CAT's latest news via their social media channels: