Woman scattering ashes at lake

Where to scatter the ashes of a loved one

Posted by AK Lander | On August 10, 2020 14:19

Discover some suggestions for special locations for scattering ashes in the UK, as well as the answers to some common questions about scattering ashes.

When a person has been cremated, deciding what to do with their ashes, especially when they left no specific requests, can be challenging. Whether you go down the route of burying ashes in a memorable location or perhaps in a cemetery marked with a headstone, or you decide on scattering a loved one’s ashes, you'll want to honour them in every way you can and create some closure for yourself and other loved ones.

Firstly, we spoke to the team at Scattering Ashes, who told us this: "Scattering a person’s ashes is a choice most families make. In fact, more than three-quarters of us will choose this as a final destination. Fortunately, the laws in the UK are pretty relaxed and it is permissible to scatter ashes on water or private land if you have the landowner’s permission. The choice of destination can be for a number of reasons - favourite holiday destination, favourite place to walk, where a relative was scattered the list goes on and on.”

They also offered their guidance on choosing a location: "There is one piece of advice that we put before all others - don't rush. A scattering location will take on new meaning for the family, an eternal bond. So, you need to consider whether it is right. Issues like - can we go back there, is it appropriate for others who may wish to follow, will the location ever be developed? And remember that you don't have to scatter all the ashes if you don’t want to, ashes jewellery is a lovely way to remember someone."

In this article, we explore some special ideas for scattering ashes and also answer some of the most common questions about scattering ashes in the UK.

Places to scatter ashes in UK

Depending on where you live and the person in question, the number of places to have the ashes scattered can be endless, especially if the departed didn't leave a specific location. If you are looking for a special place to scatter ashes in the UK, here are some ideas of locations you could consider.

Over water

Scattering ashes at sea in the UK, or over a body of water such as a river or lake, can be a popular choice. For those whose departed was an avid lover of the ocean, or perhaps a nature lover, this can be a fitting tribute. As well as that, it can also offer a poetic metaphor about the ever-changing nature of life, as the water moves and flows.

Planning a ceremony on the tide line or a beach, or bank of a river can offer a scenic place to say goodbye and can also offer a beautiful location to return to when you wish to visit.

At the family home, or a family-owned location

Whether it is your current home, or perhaps on a family farm or area, scattering ashes in a personal location can be a wonderful suggestion. However, before doing so you should consider the longevity of this location, and whether it's somewhere you will be able to visit in years to come. If so, this can be a poignant place to honour a loved one's life in a location close to their heart and can mean they are always close by.

On private land

If the deceased had a favourite place on public land, maybe at a local golf club, or on a private beach, you may wish to scatter them here. It can offer a chance to visit a location they loved and can often mean visiting in the future will bring back memories of happy times there. However, you should always have the landowner’s permission to do so.

Family scattering ashes at Snowdon

On public land

Whether a forest near your home where you walked your dogs, a mountain top with a view over the local area, or a national park where you hiked together, spreading ashes on public land can be a fitting tribute and can offer a clear and beautiful location to visit, mourn, and remember. If you choose to scatter the ashes here, make sure to discuss it first with the local council, or organisation who owns the land. Especially in busier public areas, like on a mountain peak or popular hiking trail, do consider how much privacy you may get during the ceremony, and that there may be people around you who are unaware of what you are going through.

At a sports venue

For the avid sports fan, being scattered at their beloved team's home venue can be one of their requests. When looking to scatter ashes at a sports venue, getting in touch with the grounds-keeping team is imperative. For some venues, they have created a memorial area where ashes can be left and families can pay tribute to loved ones. Although a great option for a sports fan, do consider the amount of privacy you may have during the ceremony, and the difficulties you may face trying to revisit in the future.

At a scattering garden

For those who may wish to be more traditional, but do not want to scatter in a cemetery, looking into scattering gardens can be a good step. Specifically built to be a place of calmness and remembrance, these spaces are beautiful, and can offer an understanding and private space. You can always talk to your local cremation services or funeral home about whether they have a scattering garden or the closest ones they can recommend.

These are fantastic spaces if you feel as though the ceremony will be emotional, as they are dedicated mourning areas so you can have some privacy.


If your loved one was a keen traveller, or perhaps spent a period of time overseas, you may think that scattering their ashes in another country is a more fitting tribute. For this, you'll need to explore the laws of scattering ashes in the country you may wish to do so, and in the USA you should also look into specific state law. For guidance through this time, Splitting the Difference: A Heart-Shaped Memoir, describes the real story of Tré, who chose to spread her late husband's ashes across the world on a bucket-list trip.

Unique ideas

There are plenty of more unique ways to scatter ashes, perhaps in a grand celebration of life using fireworks, or by setting alight a replica Viking longboat. Many people have unique ideas for how they wish to be cremated, and these can be left in a will. Alternatively, you may feel an outlandish celebration is a perfect way to remember your loved one and wish to do something special.

If you aren’t sure about scattering, discover some unique ways to preserve a loved one’s ashes.

Places to scatter ashes in the UK:

  • Over water
  • At the family home, or a family-owned location
  • On private land
  • On public land
  • At a sports venue
  • At a scattering garden
  • Overseas
Couple holding urn

FAQs about scattering ashes in UK

Can you scatter ashes anywhere?

At present, there is very little legislation around the scattering of ashes in UK law. You are able to scatter ashes anywhere where you have the landowner’s permission. This means that whether you wish to scatter ashes on private land, or in a more public place, you'll simply need to ask the owner’s permission.

You should be aware that if you are choosing to bury the ashes in a biodegradable urn, rather than scatter then, the rules are different.

Do you need permission to scatter ashes?

Yes, in order to scatter ashes anywhere in the UK, you should get the landowners permission. If you are considering scattering ashes at sea, or over water, you do not need permission, however, the Environmental Agency have offered their own regulations that should be followed:

  • "The site you choose should not be near any buildings, people bathing or fishing, or marinas.
  • Your site should be more than 1km upstream of any abstraction of water. You can check this by phoning your local Environment Agency office.
  • Ashes should be spread as close to the surface of the water as possible and you should avoid windy days so that ashes do not affect people living or working nearby."

Do I have to make a record of where I have scattered ashes?

No, you do not need to make a record of where you have chosen to scatter someone's ashes. However, it is advised that you do make a note in some way for future generations. Although legally you do not need to, having a written record of the location, date and time can mean that future generations can have the information they may need to visit the location should they wish.

Do I have to scatter all of the ashes at once?

No, you certainly do not. When you are planning to scatter a loved one's ashes, you may think of myriad locations where you'd like for them to be, or perhaps there may be a range of people who would like to scatter ashes somewhere special to them. If it feels a better fit, you can always release the ashes in small sections at poignant locations, it should be whatever feels best for you and those around you.

Equally, if you feel as though you may want to keep a small amount of ashes, you can always do so. The decision is always up to you.

I'm not sure if I want to scatter my loved one’s ashes

If you are unsure about scattering ashes in any way, the best thing to do is to wait until you are ready and sure. If you have a location in mind, it's worth waiting for a period of time (perhaps 30 days) to think about your decision and whether it's the right one for your loved one. This way, you can be 100% certain when the time comes, and it can also give you time to plan a ceremony or gathering.

If you'd like to wait longer but have a memorial to visit in the time being, you could consider placing the ashes in a memorial. We offer a range of cremation memorials which can provide a place to visit, but it can also mean should you one day wish to scatter their ashes you are able to.

From UK gravestones to advice, our team are happy to help you in any way should you need to talk. Read our blog for more useful articles or get in contact today.