Top places to scatter ashes in the UK

Scattering ashes in a meaningful location is a commonly chosen method to commemorate a loved one. However, if you’re unfamiliar with the process, you may be unsure of how and where it can be done. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the necessary information on scattering ashes.

Permission for Scattering Ashes In the UK, scattering ashes is generally legal anywhere, as long as you obtain permission from the landowner. It is advisable to confirm with the Environment Agency if you intend to scatter ashes in a river or sea.

Options for Scattering Ashes There are several popular locations where you can scatter ashes in the UK. Here are some of the most common choices:

  1. Private Land Scattering ashes on private land, such as a garden or field, is an option to consider. It is crucial to obtain permission from the landowner. Keep in mind that if you scatter ashes in your own garden and later move house, you may lose the right to visit that private land.
  2. Rivers, Streams, Lakes, and the Sea Scattering ashes across bodies of water is another popular choice. Generally, you do not need permission for this, but it’s recommended to check with the Environment Agency that the chosen stretch is not near a water extraction point. It’s also best to avoid areas where people are bathing or fishing.

Scattering ashes at sea can serve as an affordable alternative to a burial at sea, which involves specific requirements and licenses. No license is required to scatter ashes at sea, and many beaches and coastlines are accessible to the public. However, it’s essential to be considerate of other beachgoers and choose a spot away from swimmers and fishermen. Additionally, pay attention to wind conditions, as beaches and clifftops can be quite windy. The Environment Agency advises against casting plastic wreaths or items containing metal or plastic into water bodies to prevent environmental pollution.

Scattering ashes on a sandy beach is possible, but it’s important to select an area below the high tide line. Choosing a secluded spot or a quiet time of day when there are fewer people around can minimize the chances of ashes being blown about. Avoid scattering ashes at the beach’s entry or exit points.

  1. Mountains or Hilltops Scattering ashes on mountains and hilltops can provide a beautiful setting for bidding farewell to a loved one. While cremation ashes are not toxic, the phosphate in cremated bones can stimulate excessive plant growth if scattered in large amounts. It’s advisable to avoid scattering ashes on mountain peaks, as the plant ecosystems there can be fragile. Instead, choose a spot further down the mountain and scatter the ashes over a wide area, rather than in one small spot. Many mountaineering clubs and societies request that no permanent memorials, especially those made from non-biodegradable materials like plastic, are left on mountains.

Keep in mind that popular beauty spots and climbs might attract many visitors, making it difficult to find a private location to say goodbye. Mountainsides and hilltops can be windy, so try to position yourself upwind while scattering the ashes.

  1. Woodland Burial Grounds, Cemeteries, or Churchyards Many crematoriums, cemeteries, and woodland burial sites have specific areas designated for scattering ashes, such as family grave sites or memorial gardens. To explore these options and obtain permission to scatter ashes in these areas, reach out to your funeral director or the cemetery or crematorium officer.
  2. Sporting Venues Scattering ashes at a beloved sports stadium, rugby ground, cricket pitch, or horse racing course is a popular way to honour the memory of a sports fan. Your funeral director can assist you in contacting the venue owner to seek permission, which often depends on the club’s policy. However, bear in mind that accessing the spot in the future may be challenging. Some clubs, like Queens Park Rangers, organize annual memorial ceremonies for deceased supporters, incorporating scattering ashes on the pitch.
  3. Multiple Locations Scattering a loved one’s ashes doesn’t have to be limited to a single location. If desired, you can scatter portions of the ashes in several different places. This allows for honoring multiple favorite destinations or scattering some ashes in your home garden while choosing a beach for the rest.

When deciding where to scatter the cremation ashes, it may be helpful to discuss the options with other relatives and loved ones. They might want to know the chosen location in case they wish to visit and pay their respects in the future.

If scattering ashes isn’t your preferred option, there are various alternatives. Preserving ashes in a columbarium, burying them in a graveyard, or keeping them at home in an urn have become increasingly popular choices. Additionally, you can have ashes transformed into memorial jewellery or incorporated into a firework for a unique tribute. For more information on cremation and what can be done with ashes, consult our comprehensive guide to cremation.