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You will be blissfully unaware of the delights - or otherwise - of Tobermory if you anchor in Aros Bay in the south east corner of Tobermory Bay. This is not an anchorage to be missed although it can difficult to get an anchor to hold, and there is a mussel farm in the way. But here you will be enclosed by the beauty of Aros Park with its walks, woods, bird song, waterfalls, lochan and unexpected remains of pumps and mills belonging to Aros House, built in 1825 and demolished in 1962. The old walled garden, now overgrown, is a reminder of the grandeur of an almost forgotten era (notwithstanding all those costume dramas on TV, Downton Abbey and its like). Perhaps it is just as well to forget the rather likely exploitation of the servants in the Victorian and Edwardian eras anyway and just enjoy the peace and beauty of the woods. There is also a lovely path through those woods to Tobermory. And there are otters around.
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And what a surprise! Who would have thought to find an active and successful theatre here? A miracle of artistic survival, run on a shoestring and threatened with closure on more than one occasion. The Mull Theatre was founded in 1966 by Barrie and Marianne Hesketh, a couple of actors who had settled on Mull. They bought Druimard House in Dervaig and amazingly started to produce plays in the barn, with just the two of them as the cast – and so the legendary Mull Little Theatre was born and continues to this day as the Mull Theatre in its 2008 purpose built home near Tobermory on the Salen road, although without the Heskeths since 1985. For a while it was celebrated as the smallest professional theatre in the world. Its success is due to the dedicated people who run it, a lot of media coverage over the years, a supportive local population, subsidies, and – of course – well produced plays which not only tour to almost every theatre, city, town, village and island in Scotland but also have landed up in London. You can catch the tours in the most unlikely places such as Muck, Arisaig and Craignish village hall, but don’t blink – these are generally one night stands and the company are packed up and off in the morning for a performance that evening somewhere else. Book now!
So if there is something on, definitely go to the Mull Theatre. It is a 40 minute walk from Tobermory along the coastal path and through Aros Park, but much quicker from the Aros Bay anchorage, skirting the lochan on your left and taking the path up towards the main road at Druimfin (ph 01688 302 673) - definitely do not walk along the main road from Tobermory.
Majoring on water lillies, the lochan in Aros Park
Abandoned and rusting machinery in Aros Park