I think this could be the bike I'll use for the trip. It's a Ridgeback horizon with a carbon fork and Shimano Sora gears. I'd like a slightly higher specced bike with 105 or SRAM Rival but the budget doesn't quite reach that far. I'll be able to get it on the bike to work scheme and it'll leave me about £200 to get theinevitable 'extras'. The combination of a steel frame and carbon fork should hopefully mean the miles will get soaked up with ease.... I hope!
The guys at Square Wheels were, as ever, extremely helpful and gave me plenty of advice so I'll be purchasing the bike through them. The good thing is that it'll double as a winter hack and commuting bike. Getting it this month will mean that I'll have plenty of time to train with it and get used to hauling kit about in panniers, something I've not really done before.