Anna Leask treats her taste buds to some Scotch whisky but is still unable to spot the elusive Nessie.
"Wherever I wander, wherever I rove, The hills of the Highlands for ever I love."
The lyrics may have been written in 1789 but, once you get to the Scottish Highlands, you know exactly what Robert Burns was getting at.
The hills roll endlessly, the craggy mountain peaks jut towards the sky, which is more often than not cloaked by a spectacular palette of grey clouds.
The air is clear and fresh, the lakes pristine and serene, and after spending a few days there, it's fair to say, as the song intimates, the Highlands had my heart.
I spent three glorious summer days exploring the region. The weather was terrific.
A Trafalgar tour bus filled with an eclectic mix of keen travellers, we spent a night in Glasgow before making the journey north to the Highlands.
The region spanning the northwest of Scotland is mountainous and sparsely populated, with the infamous and mysterious Loch Ness at its centre.
What the Highlands lack in population, they make up for in breathtaking views at every turn. We meandered north to our first stop at Loch Lomond — another Scottish landmark made popular by song.
On the bonnie banks of the loch we boarded a boat for a cruise that took us through the deep, black waters and afforded endless opportunities for photographs.
And, in true Scottish style, there was a wee dram of whisky in the tea and hot choccies we sculled back as the chilly wind whipped off the water.
We jumped back on the bus and headed further north to Glencoe, described as one of the most beautiful places in the Highlands and the site of one of Scotland's most infamous massacres.
Following the Jacobite uprising of 1689, 38 men from the local MacDonald Clan were killed by the Government for not being prompt in pledging allegiance to their new monarchs, William III and Mary II.
In addition 40 women and children died of exposure after their homes were razed.
These days, there's no sign of the violence and carnage at Glencoe, it's simply a stunning place to behold.
Onward to Fort William in the heart of the Highlands. It's a bit of a tourist hub, though not to the same degree as Edinburgh or Glasgow, and the second-largest settlement in the Highlands following Inverness.
Built around its high street, which boasts restaurants and a plethora of shops selling just about everything Scottish you can think of, Fort William is a chilled-out little town and a great place to have a wander.
A beer and a hearty pub feed later we moved on to our hotel — the Laggan Gaskmore Hotel in Cairngorm National Park.
Not only is the hotel a bit famous — the television show Monarch of the Glen was filmed inside — it has a view from every window and a sense of authentic Scottish charm.
I had an upstairs corner room which meant endless views of the fields, mountains and skyline from sunrise (which is early) to sunset.
There's nothing like waking at 4am, pulling back the curtains and lying in bed staring out at the serenity — not a single soul, car or noise to distract from the view.
The restaurant serves a mix of traditional Scottish fare and "normal" food; most were keen to taste the haggis. It was served with neeps (pureed turnip), an oatcake and a mouthwatering whisky sauce.
You may think haggis sounds revolting, but give it a go — it tastes like a sausage and is pretty good if prepared properly!
The bar is stocked with local whiskies and the staff know their stuff when recommending which one is best suited to your taste buds.
As a side note, any whisky fan must — MUST — try the Talisker. It's utterly divine.
Our tour included a scenic Highland excursion to soak in more of the natural wonders and fresh, calming air of the north in some of the prettiest places on the map.
We boarded the sea ferry over to the Isle of Skye, a short journey but one that offers more amazing views.
We lunched on the Sleat Peninsula against a backdrop of heather-covered mountain ranges, before heading back to the hotel.
We passed countless lochs and glens — just when you think the landscape cannot get any more beautiful, you turn another corner and the grandeur of Scotland takes your breath away all over again.
Before we left the region, we stopped at Loch Ness, a place I have wanted to visit for as long as I can remember.
The mystery of Nessie has fascinated me since I was a child so being able to stand on the shore, scanning desperately for a sign of life in the lake was a thrill.
The tour covered almost every part of the Highlands and was a fantastic introduction to the region.
It's a magical place to visit and a place I absolutely fell in love with.
I cannot wait to go back, but for now, in the words of Robbie Burns: "Farewell to the Highlands, farewell to the North".
Trafalgar's 11-day Best of Britain guided holiday travels from London to the Scottish Highlands, visiting Dartmoor, the Lake District, Chester, Liverpool, Stratford-upon-Avon, Edinburgh, St Andrews, the Isle of Skye and Culloden. Priced from $3275 per person, twin-share, with savings of up to 7.5 per cent or a flight credit of $500 for bookings and payments before February 28. Includes sightseeing, guides, accommodation, many meals, transport, airport transfers and the services of a travel director. Call 0800 484 333, ask your travel agent or visit trafalgar.com