What Are the Best Places to Scatter Ashes in the UK
You have many options to take care of the ashes when a deceased loved one is cremated. You can bury the ashes in a cemetery or keep them at home. There’s the option of entombing them in a columbarium or having them turned into a piece of memorial art or cremation jewellery. Another popular option is to scatter the ashes.
This option does raise a few questions. For example, do you need permission to scatter ashes? Where can you scatter ashes, and how should you do it? In this article, we’re going to answer these questions and a few more. For example, you can spread the ashes as a part of a special memorial service, and we’re going to share some other ideas.
Do you need permission to scatter ashes?
Scattering a loved one’s ashes in a meaningful place is a very common option, but it can also be a daunting one if you’ve never done it before. You might also ask yourself “Is it illegal to scatter ashes”? and be concerned about whether there are any rules and regulations you have to follow.
In the UK, there are almost no laws regarding the scattering of ashes. It is legal to scatter a loved one’s ashes practically anywhere. However, you will need to get the landowner’s permission or confirm that it’s OK with the Environment Agency.
There are also some specific environmental guidelines covering locations such as mountainsides or the sea. We’ll look at these in more detail below.
If you’re concerned, some types of funeral services may include taking care of the cremated remains.
Where can you scatter ashes?
Deciding where to scatter ashes is a very personal choice. It’s a beautiful way to pay tribute to someone's life and bid a fond farewell in a unique and meaningful way. But, can you scatter ashes anywhere in the UK? Is it legal to scatter ashes in the ocean, for example? Can you scatter ashes in a public park?
There is a wide range of places you can choose to scatter someone’s ashes, some of which are more traditional than others. You might select a memorable location, or somewhere that was special to the deceased. There is no right or wrong decision, so let’s take a look at some of these locations and see why you might want to bear them in mind.
On private land
Scattering ashes on private land that you own is a very traditional choice. You can keep a loved one close to you by scattering their ashes on your own property. It might be in the garden or around a tree. There’s also the option of scattering ashes on private land that belongs to someone else. Examples include on a farm or in a field.
If you want to scatter ashes on someone else’s land, you have to get the landowner’s permission beforehand.
One possible disadvantage of this option is that you might not have the right to visit the private land in the future. For example, if the landowner sells the land.
On common land
In the UK, some places are designated common land. Everyone has the right to roam over common land. Common land typically covers village greens and other similar sites owned by local councils.
The right to access doesn’t, however, include the scattering of ashes. If you want to do this, you should gain permission from the local council before making any plans.
On National Trust land
Around the UK, there are many places of historic interest owned by the National Trust. Choose one of these places to scatter ashes, and it’ll be a unique send-off.
The National Trust has no formal policy with regards to the scattering of ashes. It’s not been uncommon for families to get permission in the past. But you should obtain written permission from the property manager first. It’s also advisable to check whether there is no risk of environmental damage and that you can scatter the ashes privately.
In a public park
You might have a ready-made beauty spot right on your doorstep in the form of a public park. If the person who’s passed loved to spend a few hours relaxing on a park bench, feeding the ducks on the lake, or just enjoying a local green space, it could be a great resting place.
Parks can be very busy at times, so it makes sense to choose a quiet day or time to scatter the ashes. You’ll have a little more privacy, which you might appreciate if you want to say a few meaningful words.
In a garden
A garden can be a very fitting place to scatter a loved one’s ashes, especially if they appreciated the beauty of nature. If possible, you might want to consider replanting a flower from the garden in a pot at your home. This would be a beautiful reminder of your loved one.
To minimize the impact on the environment, always use a mixture of ashes and soil. A biodegradable urn is also good for the environment. You’re giving back nutrients and minerals to the earth, which, in a way, helps preserve the land.
In a garden planter
Use a garden planter if you want to bury or scatter a loved one’s ashes at home, but you’re worried about the problem of moving house. Choose a plant that was a favourite of theirs, and you can take the planter with you wherever you go.
Can you scatter ashes on a beach?
Requests to be buried at sea are quite common, but the cost and logistics involved can get in the way. The next best thing could be to scatter ashes at the beach. Most beaches and coastlines in the UK are accessible to the public.
Choose a sandy beach and scatter the ashes in an area below the high tide line. Also, avoid the beach’s entry and exit points.
When scattering ashes on the beach, always be considerate of other people and choose a spot away from fishermen and swimmers. Beaches can also be very windy. Try and choose a calm day if possible, and make sure everyone stands upwind so that the ashes are carried onto the beach.
Can you spread ashes in the ocean or at sea?
Scattering ashes at sea is another alternative to a sea burial. Unlike a sea burial, you don't need permission from a landowner or a licence to spread ashes at sea. There are, however, guidelines you should follow.
The Environment Agency’s advice is that anything else you scatter at the same time must be biodegradable. Stay at least one kilometre upstream of any water collection points. Stay far away from buildings, marinas, and any places where people swim or bathe. Choose a calm day to scatter the ashes and hold the urn close to the water when you empty it. This reduces the risk of the ashes blowing into your face.
However, if you’d like to visit the place easily, scattering ashes at sea might not be the best option.
In a river or on a lake
Lakes and rivers have become very popular for scattering ashes in the UK. You don’t need a licence or permission. However, you should check with the Environment Agency that the water is not near an extraction point. Make sure anything you cast into the water is biodegradable.
Can you scatter ashes on a family grave?
Scattering ashes on a family grave is a very straightforward option. It can be a very personal way to commemorate the life of a loved one. However, you do have to own the exclusive right of burial for the grave, and if it’s lapsed, you’ll need to renew it.
If there isn’t a family grave, you might consider a garden of remembrance in a local cemetery or churchyard.
In the forest
In the UK, access to the countryside, wooded areas, and forests is easy. A popular option is to spread ashes in one of these places. Secluded areas are generally pretty easy to find. It’s also likely there will be a tree or milestone that can act as a memorial when it comes to stopping by to say hello or to mark an anniversary.
If the forest or wooded area is on private land, you must ask permission. The Woodland Trust, the UK’s largest woodland conservation organisation, can help you find the right woodland.
On a mountain top
A mountain top can make a beautiful setting in which to say goodbye. There are, however, a few things to consider.
Ashes can impact plant life, and while they might not be toxic, they could damage fragile plant ecosystems, such as those on many mountain tops. You should avoid such locations if possible. It’s much better to scatter or bury the ashes by a corrie, for example. Alternatively, choose some other notable place on the way up the mountain.
At a sporting venue
Rules and regulations for scattering ashes at sporting venues vary across the UK. It could be a fitting location if the deceased were an ardent fan of a particular team or sport. But whether it’s possible will depend on the policy of the sporting club or venue. Some venues or clubs now provide memorial areas specifically for scattering ashes.
To near space
It’s not technically possible to scatter ashes in space, but you can now send your loved one’s ashes over 30km above the earth’s surface, to the region known as Near Space Here, the air is less than 1% of the density at sea level, the temperature is below -60° and the view is simply breathtaking.
A loved ones ashes can be taken up there and released to travel the world on a breathtaking final journey. The ascent and release are captured on video to create a treasured memorial film to remember the event.
Places to scatter ashes in Scotland
If you’re wondering where to spread ashes, the same rules and regulations apply in Scotland as anywhere else in the UK. Most important is to get the landowners permission if you want to scatter ashes on private land.
There are some breathtaking spots to choose from, such as the Scottish mountains and lochs. To reduce the environmental impact at such beautiful locations, you should make a point of scattering rather than dumping them in a pile on the ground.
How to scatter ashes: Tips and Techniques
Tips on how to scatter ashes
If you’ve chosen a popular location, scatter the ashes at a quieter time of the day for more privacy.
Be eco-friendly and don’t leave non-bio-degradable objects behind.
Avoid scattering ashes on a windy day, if possible.
Scatter or spread the ashes rather than tipping them in one place.
Avoid areas where animals graze.
A clifftop scattering might seem romantic and dramatic, but it can be dangerous when the weather is rough.
Ways to scatter the ashes
There are several techniques you can choose from when you want to scatter a loved one’s ashes.
Casting: Casting means to scatter the ashes by merely throwing them into the wind. Take note of the wind direction before scattering because you want them to blow away from you rather than into your face.
Trenching: Trenching requires a long, narrow hole that you have to dig. Once you’ve dug the hole, sprinkle in the ashes and cover them with soil. Some people choose to dig the trench in the shape of a heart or their loved ones’ initials. Trenching is an excellent technique to use if you want to scatter ashes on the beach.
Toasting: Each person gets a small cup of ashes that they can choose to scatter themselves. Individuals can take turns in making a short speech or saying something they liked about the person who has died before scattering the cup of ashes.
Raking: You scatter the ashes on the ground and then rake them into the soil. Raking is an excellent option for scattering ashes in a flowerbed. The act of raking spreads the ashes evenly. Why not plant something like a rosebush or a favourite shrub?
Ringing: This technique involves scattering the ashes close to the ground. When scattering the ashes, you move in a circle around something like a memorial or tree.
What else can you do with ashes?
If you prefer not to scatter your loved one’s ashes, there are several other things you can do with them.
Interment of ashes
Ashes can be interred in a columbarium, for example, a cemetery, or a natural burial ground. A recent addition to the list of interment options is a modern Long Barrow. Long Barrows date back to prehistoric times when they were burial places or where people interred ashes or remains of a loved one.
Creative ideas for what to do with ashes
Internment of a loved one’s ashes in one alternative, but there are many more creative things you can do with ashes.
Get a tattoo with the ashes.
Turn the ashes into jewellery.
Compress the ashes into a vinyl record.
Have the ashes made into a unique work of art. The most popular is glass art.
Take the ashes on a trip around the world.
Scatter the ashes from a skydive or hot air balloon.
Place a small amount of ashes in a ‘remembrance bear’.
After the cremation of a loved one, it can be challenging to decide what to do with their ashes. Discuss the options above with other family members and consider your budget before making a decision.
If you’re ready to arrange a cremation of a loved one, contact us today.