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“Sustainable development”

Centre for Alternative Technology
Ranked #4 of 15 things to do in Machynlleth
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) has been inspiring visitors about sustainable practice for over 40 years. With seven acres of hands-on displays, examples of environmentally responsible building, renewable energy, organic gardens and kids’ holiday activities, there is something for everyone at CAT. Follow CAT’s interactive Zero Carbon Britain Trail to discover how to live enjoyably in a world with reduced emissions. Or, winding up through managed oak woodland, the Quarry Trail opens up never-before-seen areas of CAT and breathtaking views of the Snowdonia National Park. On special evenings, the Quarry After Dark programme allows guests to experience CAT after the visitor centre has closed. This diverse programme of events boasts live music, talks, late night tours, film screenings and exhibitions. Nestled in a historic slate quarry CAT site is a little uneven in places and a lot of the displays are outdoors so please wear sensible footwear and waterproof clothing. During the winter months we close the Cliff Railway and some of the outdoor trails due to the unpredictable weather, please keep an eye on our website for updated information.
Useful Information: Food available for purchase, Wheelchair access, Activities for young children, Activities for older children
Reviewed 28 September 2018 via mobile

As an agricultural engineer that has been involved in development all my working life I was fascinated by some of what I saw. For me the water powered funicular rail car was the highlight. Our guide was knowledgeable and was able to answer most of the questions posed by the group we joined relation to solar water heating, PV electricity, wind powered electricity generation, water powered electricity generation, thermal insulation etc. It whetted the appetite to learn more. My wife was very interested in the poly tunnels and the wide variety of food crops being produced. There were all kinds of learning activities for kids. The WISE training centre on site offers a variety of courses, both academic and practical, at different levels aimed at sustainability. If this kind of thing interests you make the effort to visit.

Thank Mortond4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"mole"
in 22 reviews
"the cliff"
in 13 reviews
"sustainable living"
in 12 reviews
"vegetarian restaurant"
in 7 reviews
"interesting place"
in 13 reviews
"hands on activities"
in 5 reviews
"carbon footprint"
in 8 reviews
"renewable energy"
in 7 reviews
"slate quarry"
in 7 reviews
"environmental issues"
in 6 reviews
"rainy day"
in 10 reviews
"gift aid"
in 5 reviews
"fantastic place"
in 6 reviews
"return visit"
in 5 reviews
"play area"
in 6 reviews
"cakes"
in 6 reviews
"cat"
in 122 reviews
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8 - 12 of 462 reviews

Reviewed 25 September 2018

What a disappointing trip. As others have mentioned the place is just falling to bits-you can't get away with saying this is 'eco' something or other to excuse the mess.

The signage was hopeless.

Hardly any of the ancient displays work - and even if they did they wouldn't begin to excite anyone these days.

I can't imagine why anyone would give this place a good review. Just go down to the beach at Borth/Ynyslas and have a good walk!

4  Thank dhp1651496
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CAT-VC-Team, Public Relations Manager at Centre for Alternative Technology, responded to this reviewResponded 28 September 2018

Sorry to hear you regret your decision to choose CAT rather than visiting a beach!

A shame you didn't find value in our signage and displays. A few of our recent installations offer loads of info about the sustainable structures on site and eco building methods, they interpret some growing ideas and facts in the CAT gardens and explore the thriving biodiversity along our Quarry Trail.

The 'mess' you describe generally has an important function to on-site life at CAT. Building materials and cordoned off areas are often practical demonstration and workshop facilities for our courses or post graduate students and areas of non-manicured gardens often are that way on purpose to help allow the important habitat that naturally dying back beds provide.

I'd recommend taking on of the guided tours of buying one of the guide books next time you visit as it will really help you take the most out of all the bits on offer.

Rob

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Reviewed 24 September 2018 via mobile

We attended a couple of courses over a weekend which were very interesting and informative. The place itself is very interesting too with lots of info about alternative energy and technology. It's looking a little tatty in places so not sure if it is a fully functional site anymore.
The cafe only serves vegetarian food which is really good and very tasty.
It is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Thank Richard C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CAT-VC-Team, Public Relations Manager at Centre for Alternative Technology, responded to this reviewResponded 1 October 2018

Thanks for the review Richard - great to hear you enjoyed your courses.

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Reviewed 15 September 2018 via mobile

I first visited CAT in the mid-1970s with my parents and 2 younger brothers when I was about 10 years old. We all recall a place which was welcoming, exciting and ahead of its time. We also still talk about the fantastic meal we had in the vegetarian whole food restaurant. My husband and I were in Wales last week revisiting all the places I’d been to as a child in the Machynlleth area and CAT was a must-visit. It is still doing great environmental work and is as fascinating as ever. My husband loved it, especially the sustainable home. We both enjoyed the water-powered funicular railway and, of course, we had a lovely meal in the restaurant (cheese pasty was so good!). We thoroughly recommend CAT for an inspiring and educational visit and a great lunch!

Thank Jo B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CAT-VC-Team, Public Relations Manager at Centre for Alternative Technology, responded to this reviewResponded 28 September 2018

Great to hear from you Jo - glad you enjoyed your visit :)

Many thanks,

Rob

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Reviewed 14 September 2018

We were looking forward to visiting the CAT centre on our recent visit to Wales. We couldn't have been more disappointed! The highlight was the ride up the water driven funicular. On reaching the top area via the funicular, we were upon the visitor centre/shop, which we likened to a dated and dusty 1970's style shack with old fashioned and dated books, and some eco friendly products. There was no direction given to to tour the buildings, most of which seemed to be lived in - we likened it to a commune with students wandering around, none of whom seemed able to help with directions as to how to enjoy the facility. We bought a guide, which we didn't need as we just wandered around the dated and badly maintained displays and buildings. The eco gardens, which we were excited to see were horrible! A clustering of weed filled beds of dead flowers, herbs and vegetables and faded signage - it was horrendous and a total waste of time and money. There was only one tour a day and that was at 12 noon so we missed it. Everything was dirty and scruffy and badly maintained. There is no sense, rhyme nor reason to the keeping open of this place. It either needs modernising or knocking down and bringing from the 1970's to the modern day. Information seemed dated and the equipment you could try and use to understand eco technology was broken! Altogether a total waste of time. The man who sold tickets at the entrance was still finding enthusiasm for the cause which was admirable.

2  Thank poshnb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
CAT-VC-Team, Public Relations Manager at Centre for Alternative Technology, responded to this reviewResponded 28 September 2018

Hi Posh,

I'm sorry to hear you didn't find architecture of the CAT shop to your liking. The building that the shop is housed within is a state-of-the-art rammed-earth building which uses low-enery materials and passive solar design principles. There is loads of information on these structures on the Buildings Trail and the guide book also gives some good background.

With regards to the shop content, we do have a second hand book section which perhaps you found yourself in! In addition, we sell a large number of current publications on alternative technology, organic gardening and vegetarian/vegan cookery along with academic texts used by our post graduate students.

What a shame you didn't enjoy the gardens - they have had excellent reviews all summer! At this time of year, the garden team purposefully leave areas to die back naturally which provides an important habitat for our thriving biodiversity. I agree that it can look messy though... especially after a downpour!

Perhaps come back and visit us again, taking use of some of the bits on offer such as the guide book and our excellent guided tours.

Kind regards

Rob

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