Return of the CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology)

We first visited the CAT in Snowdonia about 10 years ago.


We stayed at the Snowdon Ranger youth hostel, coincidentally in the same room we had 5 years ago for a birthday assault on Snowdon – it was just as grotty and with the same pungent reminder of how socks fair after a long hike.

With Max studying alternative energy technologies, we were looking forward to seeing how things had progressed over 10 years.

Listening on the tour

But the tour guide explained that now green techs were mature and commercially available, after leading the field, the work of the CAT was now about making them more widespread and commercially available.

CAT garden pond

I wasn’t convinced. So much has moved on with transport, solar, construction etc. It felt the place was happy to rest on its laurels, and take the cash from the gift shop and MSc programme. It felt like a visitor attraction.

Max shooting T

That was confirmed by speaking with another chap who’d been there 30 years and who after running the restaurant now operated the iconic water powered funicular cable car. The founders had moved on long ago leaving the place to trundle on and become a limited company as opposed to the cooperative it started as.

Max shooting

But we had a good time nevertheless.

Me and T


One thought on “Return of the CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology)

  1. This reminded me of the Welsh poet Edward Thomas:

    Heralded as the first ecological poet, he wrote “the parochialism of humanity” remains blind to “the business of the earth”. His poetry quietly spoke of the “diminution of man’s importance in the landscape”.
    He wrote many of his poems within a two year period in the destruction of the First World War, as if he knew he had only a short time to say something. His influence on other poets such as Robert Graves and particularly Alun Lewis, was profound.
    There is no one else – perhaps only Wordsworth – who writes about the subsuming of the consciousness to the natural world, whereby one becomes part of the natural environment in an otherworldly, almost mystical experience. He wrote as if, with the advent of cars and planes, our division from the landscape, our earthly womb, was cold and arrogant.
    Thomas died in France, in a mine blast during the war.


    Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed
    The speculating rooks at their nests cawed
    And saw from elm tops, delicate as flowers of grass,
    What we below could not see, Winter pass

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