As people and businesses tentatively expand their post-lockdown horizons, one north Lancashire heritage attraction has been putting itself through a testing time – deliberately.

Leighton Hall, just north of Lancaster near Carnforth, joined forces with the staff of coach tour operator Bibby’s of Ingleton for a trial run to test their day trip preparations and safeguards prior to relaunching group visits. By completing COVID-19 risk assessments and adhering to Government and public health guidance, both have been awarded the new UK tourism industry standard and consumer mark, called ‘We’re Good To Go’.

Determined however for preparations not to become a simple box-ticking exercise, both companies went further by walking through the trip from their customers’ perspective on mock up day out. Estate manager Lucy Arthurs says: “Opening up after lockdown isn’t just critical for the survival of tourism businesses like ourselves and Bibby’s. Destinations and coach operators working together is the only way to ensure we have a future to build on. Our customers need to get out and about, reconnect and enjoy life again; this is vital to people’s physical and mental health.

“We literally took every step our visitors would. We’re now confident guests can relax and enjoy their coach journey followed by our house tour, gardens and tea room in complete safety and comfort.”

Both businesses already had standards in place to cover social distancing, masks, hand sanitiser, one way systems, signage, ventilation, and cleaning. Customer booking details enabled an effective Trace and Track system. Leighton’s friendly guides, who conduct interactive tours of the historic hall, are using Perspex visors ensuring they can be easily seen and heard by everyone at optimum distance and tours will be taking 10 -12 people round the house at once. Leighton’s envious outdoor space makes it easy to enjoy a stroll or enjoy a cup of tea and slice of cake in the garden. Details including distanced seating, pre-ordering and table service with proper china and sealed biscuits also gave confidence.

Pre booked groups are welcome all year round, so people who have had to cancel summer trips don’t have to miss out.

• Leighton Hall near Carnforth is the historical seat of the Gillow family, and the family still live at the hall today. Just 10 minutes’ drive following brown signs from M6 Junction 35.

• To comply with social distancing guidelines, all visits must be pre-booked, with a choice of: garden only, garden and house tour, afternoon tea, coffee and cake, all priced accordingly.

• For reopening updates, information and bookings for tour operators, see www.leightonhall.co.uk, call 01524 734474 or email info@leightonhall.co.uk