Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Westlake Village, California
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Both the Revolution and the Dawes would work. Your other link, "this", was a dead link.
My opinion, if you are going off the beaten track get 26" wheels. They are more rugged and tires, tubes, and spokes are more common. You can usually run fatter tires on 26" wheels which cushion the ride which is easier on you and your equipment. Also, bar end shifters are more rugged than STI and can be operated in the friction mode if something should go wrong with the indexing.
There are 26" wheel touring bikes with drop handlebars. The Thorn Nomad is one but it's not in the price range that you stated. Do Revolution or Dawes have one?
400 GBP is about 780 USD. We have the REI Novara Safari for 849 USD.
Steel or aluminum? Steel is reputed to have a better ride but touring bikes run fat tires which mitigate the difference. Don't be afraid of aluminum if it fits into your budget better. I have never had any trouble with the anonymous aluminum frames of lower end bikes. Go with a reputable brand, however.
I think a touring bike would ride better than a mountain bike but a MTB might be more suitable for your budget. Specialized has the Hardrock Sport for around 400 USD which is about 205 GBP. It has a very rugged frame. I don't like that it has a suspension fork but here in the US it's hard to find a MTB without one. Don't buy used if you can help it. Repairs to a used bike can bring the price up to the cost of new. With an old bike everything is old. With a new bike everything is new.