Tucked beneath the southern peaks of Snowdonia National Park is the UK's most eco-friendly visitor attraction. The CAT centre opened in 1975, but its remit couldn't be more current: to demonstrate how everyone can live more sustainably. The centre leads by example - almost all of its buildings and displays are powered by solar, wind or hydro energy and you can try out its waterless toilets. Even access to the site is environmentally friendly: visitors enter via a steep, water-balanced cliff railway.
Kids can bang the plastic pipes and barrels of the "rubbish orchestra"; push the buttons and knobs in the alternative power zone; then scramble around the mole hole - a dark, underground tunnel with giant creepy crawlies. If the displays don't keep them busy, the centre also has two adventure play areas, and a smallholding with goats, hens, ducks and geese. In the garden areas children are encouraged to test out fragrant and tasty plants and herbs in the "taste me" and "smell me" beds.
Gardeners at the centre have had years of experience transforming what was once a barren slate quarry into fertile, organic gardens. Visitors can learn how this was achieved and pick up tips for their own gardens through the displays on composting, natural pest control and urban gardening, which proves that useful crops can be grown even in the smallest of spaces. The ultra eco-friendly Whole Home building also offers some great advice on how to green up your own home.
The self-service restaurant serves vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free meals, using ingredients grown at the centre or sourced locally.
The majority of the site is flat and all the buildings have access ramps or level entrances. The cliff railway is able to accommodate wheelchairs. An electric scooter and a wheelchair are available for use. Guide dogs are welcome.
The centre opens 10am-5.30pm daily from Easter to the end of October. The centre closes at 6pm during school summer holidays and at dusk during winter. Adults: £6, children aged five-15: £4. Arrive by bus or bicycle and you will receive a £1 discount.
How to get there
Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth, Powys, SY20 9AZ (01654 705950, cat.org.uk).
By road: The centre is three miles north of Machynlleth on the A487. Parking is free. By rail: The nearest station is in Machynlleth, which is on the Birmingham to Aberystwyth train line. Ask for the inclusive rail/entry ticket at your local station to get half price entry to the centre.
By bus: (number 30, 32, 34) travel from Machynlleth station to the centre every hour Monday to Saturday.