Car-free east of England: a Christmas castle, winter walks and fairytale villages

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There’s so much to see in and around Lincolnshire and Leicestershire this Christmas – from nature reserves to medieval towns – and it can all be done without a car

The eight milkmaids have had a knees-up in the Elizabeth Salon – at least it looks that way – leaving a pastel-coloured tower of pails, cows, and three-legged stools under the ornate painted ceiling. Next door, seven sculptural swans are swimming through an elaborate silver centrepiece above a grand banqueting table, while six lifesize geese have laid Fabergé-style eggs in sparkling bullrush-fringed nests.

Charlotte Lloyd Webber, who decorates Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland, and Castle Howard, North Yorkshire, has created a splendidly theatrical 12 Days of Christmas here at Belvoir (pronounced “beaver”) Castle. The display features more than 100 trees and thousands of baubles; the five gold rings take the form of a big kinetic sculpture, twirling above Belvoir’s remarkable art collection (from £10/£19 for children/adults,

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