Popular places to scatter ashes
If you have recently lost a family member, loved one or friend, then creating a lasting memorial can be a little harder if they were cremated. With the lack of a physical location that comes with a burial, cremations often require a little bit of creative thinking to find a special place that can be visited or just somewhere meaningful as a final resting place.
Any crematorium in the UK will offer family members the ashes of the deceased. It’s not uncommon for people to keep the ashes at home or in a special place, so the person who has passed away can still be part of their lives. However, the scattering of ashes is also a popular way for the person to be returned to the earth, or to be given an extra-special send-off in a place that meant something to them.
If you’d like to scatter a loved one’s ashes but aren’t sure what’s allowed or where to do it, then check out our quick guide and handful of ideas for some inspiration.
Scattering ashes and the law
In the UK, there aren’t any laws regarding the scattering of ashes, but if you choose to do so on private land then you must obtain permission from the landowner. You can spread ashes in places like public beaches, parks or remote areas without obtaining permission.
It’s also worth noting that scattering ashes in public often requires a bit of tactfulness, plus it’s often more respectful to spread ashes with a bit of privacy, so busy public locations can be problematic. A small sprinkle may be more suitable in certain scenarios, or heading back to busier spots when things have quietened down might be a better option.
If you choose to scatter your loved one’s ashes in a location such as a mountain, there are also environmental guidelines that you should consider.
Popular places to scatter ashes in the UK
Scattering ashes at sea, on the coast or at the beach
Requests to be buried at sea are more common than you think but the logistics and costs involved can be very prohibitive, so the next best thing could be scattering ashes at the beach, near the coast or actually into the sea. Choose a nice viewpoint, a stretch of coastline or some quiet rockpools to release either some or all of the ashes.
A top tip when it comes to releasing ashes at the seaside is to be wary of the wind. Try and choose a calm day and make sure both you and any attendees stand upwind so that the ashes are carried onto the beach or out to sea. Remember, less busy locations are always best when it comes to spreading ashes.
You must also stay at least a kilometre upstream of any water collection points, and far from marinas, buildings, and places where people swim or bathe.
We’re pretty lucky in the UK that many of us have easy access to wooded areas and the countryside. Choosing a nature area or woodland to spread ashes is a popular option, as secluded areas are fairly easy to find, plus things like trees or milestones can act as a memorial when it comes to marking anniversaries or just visiting to say ‘hello’. Remember to ask permission if the wooded area is on private land.
The crematorium or cemetery
Many crematoriums have a peaceful garden or special area designed for spreading ashes, so remember to ask when you’re arranging the funeral. Lots of cemeteries also offer this option, so if the person has friends or relatives in a particular cemetery, you could scatter ashes close by. Just remember to ask whoever is in charge for permission.
If your loved one was a cricket, football, rugby or other sports fan, then why not give them one last trip to the big game? Many stadiums, arenas and sports grounds offer special ceremonies where ashes can be scattered on the pitch, or dedicated memorial areas close to the field of play. Get in touch with stadium management to see if it’s possible to scatter some ashes, but be aware that some sports clubs may charge a fee.
Scattering ashes doesn’t need to be complicated. If the person was a keen gardener, or just enjoyed spending time sitting outside in the sunshine, then what better place to scatter a few ashes than out of the back door! You don’t need to ask permission, plus they’d definitely have appreciated being left to relax in their favourite spot. One thing you should consider if choosing to scatter the ashes at home is that if you move house, or the house is no longer in the family, you may be unable to visit.
If a pint or glass of wine was always on the cards, then the local could be a fitting final resting place! Pub beer gardens are becoming a common location for scattering ashes, but landlords may be open to smaller urn or vial being displayed behind the bar – just ask, as they may be more than willing to welcome an old regular back into their pub!
Parks are ready-made beauty spots that could act as a great resting place, especially if the person enjoyed a day spent wandering around the lake or relaxing on a park bench. It may make sense to choose a quieter day or time to scatter ashes in popular parks for added privacy, so consider this if you intend on saying a few meaningful words without being disturbed by other members of the public.
A National Trust Site
The National Trust owns a large number of properties including historic houses and gardens, industrial monuments and social history sites. Although the National Trust does not have a formal policy on scattering ashes on their sites, they are happy to consider requests, on the basis there are no environmental issues. If you would like to scatter your loved one’s ashes on a National Trust site, you should check with the manager at your chosen location, permission will normally be granted on the understanding that the scattering will be discreet, without leaving any markers or tributes behind.
Mountains or hills
A mountain or hilltop can provide a beautiful setting for saying goodbye to your loved one. Although cremation ashes are not toxic, the phosphate in the ashes can over-stimulate plant growth if scattered in large amounts. For this reason it is better for the environment to avoid scattering ashes on mountain peaks, where plant ecosystems can be particularly fragile. You should instead find a spot further down the mountain and scatter the ashes over a wide area. Mountains can also be very windy so you should stand upwind as you scatter the ashes.
You should also consider that popular mountains in the UK may have many visitors, so you may struggle to find a spot to say a private goodbye.
Tips for scattering ashes
- If scattering ashes in a popular location, choosing a quieter time of day will offer a little privacy
- Be eco-friendly, don’t leave non-bio-degradable objects such as the urn behind
- Don’t tip all of the ashes into a concentrated area, try to spread the ashes over a larger area
- Try to avoid windy days, but if it is windy, keep the wind at your back when scattering
- Avoid areas where animals are grazing
Hopefully these ideas should give you a starting point when it comes to choosing the ideal spot to lay a loved one to rest. If you would prefer not to scatter your loved one’s ashes there are many other things you can do with them. The interment of ashes or keeping the ashes at home in an urn is also popular in the UK. We also have ideas for unique things to do with ashes, including making jewellery or shooting them into space.
If you need any further help or guidance when it comes to arranging the funeral itself, what to say when it comes to readings or just some advice on coping with the loss of a loved one, then don’t forget to check out our advice section.