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Beyond South Wales Medical Placements: Traveling there and back

28 November 2021

Many prospective medical students of Cardiff University will have noted the various opportunities to experience clinical placement across Wales in a multitude of hospitals and GP surgeries, but what’s it actually like?

Even as a Welsh boy myself, I had a very limited knowledge of what this would actually entail until I found myself in Bangor for 8 weeks as part of my year 4 Women, Child and Family block at the start of this year! Therefore, I have decided to start a new blog series to describe what the medical placements are like outside of South Wales for prospective and current students, or even those just interested in what other parts Wales have to offer!

In this blog I will describe my journey to Bangor, and what I did to make the 4+ hours of driving feel less dry.

Before I begin, it is worth noting that the University will offer transport via a coach to your placement hubs before the start of the block. Many students will opt for this as they do not wish to bring their cars, or simply do not feel like driving and want to save on the petrol money! Personally, I wanted to bring my car to North Wales to give myself the freedom of exploring the surrounding areas. This gave me the opportunity to make stops along the way in some amazing coffee shops and restaurants to satisfy my requirements as a serial foodie! Usually the split is about half take cars and half opt to use the coach service.

My Journey Up!

For my journey up I travelled through Mid Wales, via Brecon making my stops at Rhayader and Dolgellau.

A screenshot from Google Maps

Many of you may feel inclined to bash the journey out in one hit, or think why even make a fuss out of it. However, I had reason behind my madness: 1) I have a caffeine problem and require regular pitstops to maintain my functionality 2) the journey to North Wales is actually very beautiful, and driving allowed me to take in the scenic views and truly appreciate the backdrops around me.

The first pit stop was Lost Arc in Rhayader!

Lost Arc is a well reviewed cafe with free parking, practically on the main route to Bangor so requires very little effort to make a stop off. There you will find a selection of homemade wholesome dishes and fantastic coffee.

“What do you get Nick?”

Said legit no one… possibly my Mum if she reads this?

An Iced Coffee

To satisfy my basic needs

Welsh Rarebit

With possibly the best chutney I’ve had to date?

I would defiantly recommend this cafe to anyone passing through, as the quality and prices are unmatched! This charged me up nicely for the next section of my journey.

Something you will notice as you travel through the A roads of Wales is that they are incredibly popular with motoring enthusiasts. This is easy to understand when you pair the beautiful scenes with the interesting winding roads filled with steep inclines and declines.

I found myself surrounded by expensive cars and motorbikes, and at one point got sandwiched between an unusual convoy. In front were 2 BMW M series, and a Lamborghini (my superficial TopGear knowledge of cars does not allow any further detail). Behind, unable to overtake due to the winding nature of the roads, was a Mclaren and a few Porsches. In the middle? My 1.4L Vauxhall Corsa, Doris. Now the racing strips of Doris allowed me to feel slightly more in place, possibly adding a few more horse power to the imagination, but the repetitive squeak of my rice cooker in the boot did slightly dampen the vibe.

Sadly, I was swiftly excluded from the group once the roads opened up but by then I had one thing on my mind and that was my second pitstop!


Dolgellau is a beautiful town in Snowdonia, and definitely worth a visit. With all the buildings created in beautiful stone and narrow alleys you feel as if you are walking through Diagon Alley. However, I was on a mission for food, and found myself in T. H. Roberts for possibly the best steak baguette I have ever had.

T. H. Roberts

The Steak Baguette in question

The Journey Back!

On the way back I took a scenic route along the coast as I decided to drive back to Swansea, but this is still a possible route to Cardiff if you wish. For this leg of the journey I made one pit stop in Aberystwyth, which on a side note is another one of the possible placement locations. In fact, many students opt for the CARER programme and may choose to spend an entire year on GP placement there. But back to the important stuff: food.


The location for my final pitstop to end my placement was Medina, a Mediterranean style restaurant, with a lot of the recipes inspired by Ottolenghi’s cooking. One of the benefits about Medina is that it is open 9:30-20:00 Tuesday to Saturday, so no matter what time you set off on your journey you are more than likely to be able to use it as a possible stopping point.

Pan Fried Cod

For someone who loves food as much as I do, I should really learn how to take a decent photo that can do justice. But on a serious note, what a meal!

And then an obligatory caffeine top up!

And that’s it for this blog! I wanted to write something a bit different to show off various aspects of away medical placements that may seem daunting to students, and prove that you can enjoy every part of the journey (literally)!

Please leave a comment if you found it useful or interesting, and feel free to contact me on UniBuddy if you have any questions about away placements at Cardiff University.

Until till next time,

Nick 😊