Visiting the Centre for Alternative Technology

by Mark on 08/17/2005

The Centre for Alernative Technology┬áis near Machynlleth and about 20 minutes from our campsite. It’s described as ‘Europe’s leading environmental display centre’. Built on the side of a slate tip its seven-acre display site demonstrates the power of wind, water and solar power and has examples of environmentally responsible buildings (built from straw bales and recycled materials), energy conservation, organic growing and composting (including a compost toilet!).

On arrival, you ascend 180ft via one of the steepest cliff railways in the world, with a gradient of 35-degrees – powered entirely by water. Two carriages linked together with a steel cable, so that when one carriage goes down the other is pulled up. When you go up or down water flows into a tank in the top carriage until it is heavy enough to pull the lower carriage up. Simple stuff and a good introduction to sustainable power. We’ve been to CAT before, its starting to look a little tatty, the information displays are fading and it’s lost its sparkle – however they are building new displays so it’ll be interesting to come back. The wholefood cafe is good and there is plenty of interactive things for kids to do. It was a beautiful sunny day so we stayed for half the day – the composting section is worthwhile if you’re a keen gardener – the suggest the men of the house pee on their compost bins!

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