Our Staff Experience Centre for Alternative Technology
After a drive through picturesque welsh country side, passing the shimmering Talyllyn lake, we arrived at the Centre for Alternative Technology – or CAT for short. The admission fees were reasonably priced, and the queues moved quickly. Once we had rounded the corner, we were met with a marvel of engineering, a water powered cliff railway, which operates based on the weight of each carriage. Once we were safely loaded, the small water compartment at the bottom was emptied, and we were off!
After a short while, we had arrived in the centre of CAT, an oasis of sustainability, teeming with wildlife, it truly felt as though we had left all pollution and the hum of cars rushing past had long been silenced. Immediately to our front stood a glistening pond, overflowing with reeds and bursting with life. It was clear the people at CAT had a wealth of knowledge and we were eager to see what we could learn from them.
It was a wet day when we travelled to CAT, but we did not let the rain put us off! I found that lots of CAT’s attractions were either indoors, or under cover, such as a large wooden structure with lots of interactive games for the children, and captivating information about many alternative, sustainable ways for generating electricity. For the outdoorsy bits, and the walks up at the top, a small umbrella was a godsend!
We both had such an amazing time at CAT, despite the rain, and we found it suitable for ALL. From baby sensory objects, interactive stations for small children, as well as fascinating displays for those a bit older. I took my younger sister, who at 13 years old, was at a perfect age where CAT had a very positive impact on her. Not only does what we learnt help with her schoolwork, but she began asking all sorts of questions about why we still do not use renewable energy as a standard. She’d begun thinking about a peaceful, off-grid life, and felt particularly inspired by CAT’s water source.
Though I had visited CAT once before, I had not walked the quarry trail. We followed the path up from the right hand side of the centre, and soon found ourselves walking through a huge wildflower meadow. Further on, we came to CAT’s water reservoir, which we discovered was the sole contributor for all of the water at the centre. It was extremely calm and peaceful up there, with a view overlooking the centre and beyond. I would highly recommend this short walk as we discovered many small gems that are hidden across the track, though be wary that it can get quite steep, as well as muddy in wet weather.
We walked the Quarry Trail the other way round, and came out conveniently next to the café and a large children’s adventure play area. This was perfect for the young ones to blow off some steam while the adults could catch up over a coffee.
Unsurprisingly, the café at CAT boasts the biggest selection of fresh, hot vegan and vegetarian lunch options, from pastries to hot meals and scrumptious salads, we were not leaving there hungry! Their hot drinks were heavenly on a drizzly day, and an oat milk latte was the perfect pick me up before we continued our adventure. The café not only offered food, but a vast selection of vegan cook books, gardening books, and souvenirs that are all designed with sustainability in mind. If you choose not to sample the café, there are ample tables and benches throughout the centre, that make perfect picnic spots – just ensure you dispose of any waste responsibly!
If you’ve ever wondered about becoming more independent and growing your own fruit and veg, CAT is the perfect place to start. I wasn’t lucky enough to attend one of their independent courses, but it was evident from the biodiversity across the site that the gardeners knew what they were doing. It was intriguing to see a completely paved over area, full of plants growing out of old welly boots, saucepans, rubbish bins and essentially anything else you may have laying around.
As our time at CAT had now ended and we boarded the water powered cliff railway once more, I began thinking about manageable ways to become more sustainable and eco-friendly in my day to day life. This time, our cart filled with water, and the extra weight pulled us down, it was now time to reflect on what I had seen, over a cup of tea and a slice of cake in the neighbouring Corris Craft Centre.
Top Tip: look out for the Mole!