Not holding out much hope for today, but the ride turned out to be fantastic. Ignored the guidebook I've been using (which does tend to recommend rather circuitous B roads) and took the A49 towards Shrewsbury and Whitchurch, then the A41 to Chester.
The road was busy, but followed a river and train line, so avoided hills even though it passed the Long Mynd - the hills seemed to disappear as you approached them and the road threaded between.
Weather sunny, but not too hot. Stopped in Shrewsbury for a drink and chatted to a former double bass player from the CBSO (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra) which Clare and I see regularly.
A great afternoon too, feeling really good. My first visit to Chester and find it really charming, walking around the pretty half-timbered centre before heading to my B&B.