I personally would go M1, M6 (and then M6 toll road) and either exit around Sandbach, or up to chester and down (depends on where you are going) OR M1, M6, then M54 and up via Shewsbury (not sure if you can use toll road going that way?)
Second what catgirl suggests. Often to go to visit my Dad in the Wirral and go M25, M40, M42 then M6 toll (worth every penny) and then M54 and then A41 - but you will want to change the A41 bit for a better route into Wrexham. Used to take me only 3.5 hours from M25 junction 10 to Chester area - on a good clear traffic day.
was feeling that someone agreed with me, but then when they took it back! Actually, now that I have realised 'HEATHROW' I would probably do M40 too! (I am used to doing the route from east london.) Am not sure about stops on M40 though, know there are plenty on M6.
M6 toll road costs £3 each way. Will have less traffic on it and is much smoother and more pleasant drive.
Can't remember there being any services on it though which is probably worth remembering. If you're travelling with children - then would recommend a stop at Warwick services on the M40. It's probably a little less than half way. Very helpful staff (I went there on my own with dd when she was only 18 months and not walking - and they got all my food and coffee for me, found me a table, high chair and everything) and good facilities. Think this is the last service station you will find....but I'm not 100% certain...
And yes it has a newly built service station with good facilties for kids - had some stuff for them to play with in the restaurant area and even some relatively healthy food box type things for them too.
Just watch your speed on the toll road, so tempting to just put your foot down on that wonderfully empty motorway but I always see a car pulled up on the hard shoulder with nice police car behind and driver having friendly chat with police person.