We will be in north Wales in May. We will drive to Manchester the day before we fly out but the drive is a little over an hour. I'd like suggestions for interesting stops without going way out of our way.
Don't have a map in front of me but we enjoyed seeing Powis Castle in NE Wales and Stokesay Castle in England. We were headed to the Cotswolds and stopped over in Ludlow. We loved North Wales-if you enjoy gardens Bodnant is very nice.
Chester is a fun stop-over. Take a break and walk around the city wall. Chester was a Roman fort. The town has some mideval houses and a great shopping district called the Rows. I assume you would have done all the Welsh Castles, Betws-y-coed. Snowdonia reminds me of Middle Earth.
Chester. Hard to say if its out of the way because "North Wales" is a bit vague.
I'll be coming from Conwy so it's really northern Wales.
From Conwy to Manchester you pretty much have to go through or around Chester. It's a great place to spend all or part of a day. I think they have horse races in May, you can watch for free from the top of the wall above the racecourse if you're there on a race day. But if you want to make money at the track you have to buy a ticket. ;) Chester has a small very interesting cathedral, and a medieval center with lots of half-timbered buildings (mostly restored). You can walk along the town wall most of the way around the center. There's a good museum about the Roman settlement there (Chester means camp, as in Manchester, Lancaster, etc.). It used to be a seaport until the river deposited enough silt to cut it off from the deep water.