Scattering Ashes After Cremation: What You Need To Know

candle and a flower

Scattering your loved one’s ashes after cremation can be a meaningful and symbolic way to say goodbye to someone in a place that was significant to them. A beach they used to go for walks on. A riverside. A beauty spot they used to visit. These places can seem wonderful to let their ashes rest.

However, what many people don’t know is that it is not legal to scatter your loved one’s ashes just anywhere. You will need permission from the person or people who own the land to scatter their ashes.

Read on for our guide on where and how to scatter a loved one’s ashes:

Private Property – Fields | Beauty Spots | Visitor Sites

After a cremation, in order to scatter ashes on private property, you will need to gain permission from the landowner. While it may seem harmless to scatter their ashes in a local beauty spot, some landowners are uncomfortable with people scattering their loved one’s ashes on their property. This is understandable, especially if it is an area frequented by many people. Make sure that you have written permission, or you could be breaking UK law when scattering your loved one’s ashes.

If you are planning on scattering the departed’s ashes on your own property, like your garden, for example, then you do not need to seek legal permission.

UK country side - greenery with wooden fencing

Public Property – Parks | Public Beauty Spots | Forests

Scattering ashes on public land holds the same rule as those for private property. You still need permission from the landowner. Only, in this case, the landowner you are seeking permission from is the local council. Make sure to contact your council before moving ahead with the scattering of your loved one’s ashes, as they are not guaranteed to say yes.

Sunny Corner in Malpas, for example, has asked the bereaved not to scatter ashes on their venue. This was because as a local beauty spot that is maintained by volunteers, many of its workers were not comfortable finding ashes distributed across their workspace.  

Be conscious of where you would like to scatter your departed’s ashes after a cremation. The local council is more likely to grant permission when ashes are scattered in a secluded location; somewhere it is unlikely people will come across them before they have fully scattered.

UK Park with grass, trees and benches

Religious Property – Churchyards | Cemeteries | Burial Grounds

Often, the departed will have wished to be cremated, but also be close to the people they loved. This can mean having their ashes scattered in a cemetery or graveyard where their loved ones are buried.

In such cases, you will need to gain permission from the church or religious body that tends to these properties.

Be aware that sometimes the deceased will need to have been a follower of the religion that owns the property.

gravestones in a graveyard

Water – Rivers | Ocean

You do not need legal permission to scatter the ashes of a loved one over a river or ocean. However, you should still check in with an environmental agency. There are certain factors to consider:


You must make sure that you do not scatter ashes anywhere near a fishery or marina. In the same vein of logic, you should also check that you are not scattering them anywhere under a mile upstream from a water plant, reservoir, or another centre that interacts with the water.

UK River surrounded by greenery

The Ocean

Plan ahead for the weather. Beaches and headlands can be very windy, so try to plan around this for calm weather. Scattering ashes into an ocean can make for a beautiful send-off. Scattering them into gale-force winds coming from the ocean, less so.


Contact W R Bettelley For Cremation Services, Advice, And Permissions For Scattering A Loved One’s Ashes

At W R Bettelley, we strive to help you realise your departed’s last wishes. We offer professional and compassionate cremation services and can offer expert advice on how to scatter your loved one’s ashes in a loving, respectful, and legal manner. We can even help facilitate the permissions you need to scatter ashes on private, public, or aquatic property.

Contact us today for more information.

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