Will be spending the afternoon in Warwick at the castle. Should we travel on through Birmingham to our next stop, IronBridge Gorge, or Stay in Warwick that night and try the drive the next morning?
I don't think there is a correct answer; it is only 60 miles between the two. The www.rac.co.uk has a route planner. However, 1) you wrote "through Birmingham". Unless you are planning to stop for a few hours to see Birmingham (and despite its reputation, there are some sites of interest), you do not want to drive "through" but instead "around".
2) if you go via the M42, particularly try to avoid morning and evening rush hours. It's a busy route most of the day, but especially then - avoiding the rush hour might dictate whether you choose to go the same day or stay over in Warwick.
Route planners come up with two basic ways: Warwick-M42-Stourbidge-Bridgnorth-Ironbridge Warwick-M6-M54-Telford-Ironbridge (Not included detail to first motorway in each case.) Timewise, in the abstract these are much of a muchness (~1hour 20mins) - the second has more motorway, but longer, the first has much more single carriageway routes, skirting round towns. Both routes are likely to be busy with work traffic. I personally often choose evening driving, particularly in the summer.
Day of the week and time of day will be important as mentioned above. Morning rush hour and evening rush hour, M-F, are difficult. You need to get to the M6 northbound, exciting in one way or other most of the time. M54 west after that. I'd use the M40 to the M42 to the M6 to the M54... Watch out for the junction of the M40 north to M42 north, it is a doozie. Read the sign carefully, it can be confusing. You will be using the elevated section of the M6, allowing views of the Birmingham skyline. (selekting tongue-in-cheek font) If you alternatively choose M40 t0 M42 westbound to M5 to M6 to M42 you will avoid the elevated section of the M6 but the junction onto the M6 from the M5 can be very difficult in traffic, and it is the long way around. I agree with Keith that there is no right answer. Just - make sure to attempt the drive outside rush hour. I have driven parts of that route hundreds of times. Rush hour will be something like 5:30am to 9:30am and 3:30pm to 7pm.
Marco's first suggestion of Stourbridge, Bridgnorth, etc., will take ages longer than 90 minutes. I used to volunteer on the magnificent Severn Valley Railway which has its northern terminus at Bridgnorth and I have had to drive in Stourbridge more times than I ever care to remember. I still get lost in Stourbridge. I always have to stop and look again at a map. It is really difficult. Really. One way schemes, ring roads, many roundabouts, and sometimes less than perfect signage. I do know the area well, a branch of my family comes from a suburb of Stourbridge - Briarley Hill.
The Stourbridge route is not my suggestion - it is however the first choice of the RAC's route planner. Not one that I would personally take unless the M6 had a problem. However, some may not like motorway driving. I go to Stourbridge 2-3 times a year for events, and always go by train. Every time someone is late by car because they 'missed their turning on the Stourbridge bypass'.
Thanks Keith, Nigel, and Marco. I am not averse to driving on a larger controlled access highway. Have driven Chicago, Washington, Atlanta many times. Your suggestions of M6/M54 seem like a great idea. Thanks again for the prompt answers. Daniel