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Ideas for scattering ashes: the most beautiful locations, ceremony advice and UK laws

Last updated 11th December 2023

5 min read

Saying goodbye to a loved one is an emotive occasion, and scattering ashes is a common way in which families celebrate life or honour last wishes.

In the UK, it's legal to scatter ashes on land and in water, leaving you with a number of beautiful areas to choose from. But often we get stuck on scattering ashes ideas and locations.

Our recent study on funeral costs reveals that just 1% of people know their loved ones' funeral preferences. For many, this includes where they would like their ashes to be spread.

Whether you're honouring someone's wishes or choosing a location by yourself, there are some important factors to consider.

We've pulled together lists of the most picturesque, peaceful and accessible areas to scatter your loved one's ashes.

The most picturesque locations

If your loved one's wishes are to rest amongst some breath-taking scenery, these locations reflect the true beauty of the British landscape – from the Cairns of Scotland to the white cliffs of the southern coast.

  1. Windermere, Cumbria
  2. Dartmoor National Park, Devon
  3. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
  4. Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire
  5. Loch Lomond, Southern Scotland
  6. Loch Ness, Scottish Highlands
  7. Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park
  8. Whitstable, Kent
  9. Keswick, Lake District
  10. Brecon Beacons National Park
  11. Seven Sisters, East Sussex
  12. Sandbanks, Dorset
  13. Durdle Door, Dorset
  14. Cromer, Norfolk
  15. Woolacombe, North Devon
  16. Scarborough, Yorkshire
  17. Ullswater, Lake District
  18. Aldeburgh, Suffolk
  19. Hunstanton, Norfolk
  20. Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye

The most peaceful locations

When choosing your location, it can be difficult to find a spot where you're guaranteed to get some privacy. Here we ranked locations based on the number of visitors annually, to help you find somewhere peaceful to say your last goodbyes.

  1. Carsington Water, Derbyshire
  2. Stanwick, Northamptonshire
  3. Rutland Water, Rutland
  4. St Bees, Cumbria
  5. Lake Vyrnwy, Powys
  6. Luskentyre, Outer Hebrides
  7. Seven Sisters, Sussex
  8. Dartmoor, Devon
  9. Wimbleball, Somerset
  10. Southwold, East Suffolk
  11. Llyn Idwal, Snowdonia
  12. Whitstable, Kent
  13. Loch Shiel, Highlands of Scotland
  14. Loch Lomond, Southern Scotland
  15. West Wittering, Chichester
  16. Exmoor, West Somerset
  17. Cairngorms, Highlands of Scotland
  18. Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire
  19. Snowdonia, North-western Wales
  20. Sandbanks, Dorset

The most accessible locations

Some of the most beautiful and peaceful locations are often the most remote. We also considered the number of car parks in each destination and ranked them by accessibility. We recommend doing further research into terrain and disability access to make sure your desired location suits everyone's needs.

  1. Peak District
  2. Pembrokeshire
  3. Loch Lomond
  4. Brecon Beacons
  5. Northumberland
  6. Exmoor
  7. Whitstable
  8. Hunstanton
  9. Southwold
  10. Scarborough
  11. Ventnor
  12. Windermere
  13. Rutland Water
  14. Stanwick
  15. Carsington Water
  16. Polzeath
  17. Cromer
  18. Llanddwyn
  19. Pennine Way
  20. Keswick

Scattering ashes: laws and regulations in the UK

There is nothing explicit in legislation to prevent people from scattering ashes, but in most cases you do need the landowner's permission.

Often people choose to scatter ashes in a location with a personal meaning or connection to the person who has passed. Here are some examples:

  • At a natural burial ground
  • Over the sea, a river or a body of water
  • Private land e.g. a garden, sports ground, private farmland
  • National parks
  • Mountain summits
  • Cliff edges

Permission to scatter ashes

If visiting private land, you need to get permission from the landowner beforehand. Searching the HM Land Registry( opens in a new tab) can help to find out who owns the land you wish to visit, allowing you to start looking at how to contact them.

Most landowners are happy for ashes to be scattered on their property, but you must be mindful of local ecosystems.

Can you scatter ashes on a beach?

If you choose to scatter on a river or over the open sea, you don't need permission but you should look at guidance offered by the Environment agency( PDF downloads). When scattering ashes on beaches, you may wish to contact local authorities to make sure you are able to do so.

Other things to consider

Along with securing permissions from landowners, there are some additional factors worth considering.

Weather conditions

The unpredictability of Britain's weather can make planning very difficult. From thick clouds on mountain summits, to gale-force winds on the coast – it's important to factor in the forecast when choosing your location. If you're scattering ashes in disruptive weather it can be quite upsetting, as you can't predict where the ashes may blow.


Often the most picturesque and peaceful locations are inaccessible to many. Uneven terrains, minimal parking, and a lack of disability access can exclude a lot of people from attending the ceremony, so it's important to do your research.

How populated is the area?

A sunny afternoon on Brighton beach sounds like the perfect resting place, but it's unlikely you'll get the peaceful, private send off you'd hoped for. You should consider how popular an area is, whether there are some more private spots nearby to visit, and whether you should arrive earlier before the crowds.

Revisiting the location

It's also important to consider whether loved ones will want to revisit the location, as factors such as distance may come into play. It might also be important to think of surviving partners or relatives and whether they would like to have their ashes scattered in the same location when the time comes.

Scattering ashes ceremonies

Unsure of what to do once you arrive at your chosen location? Here are some things you may want to consider when scattering your loved one's ashes:

Say a few words

If you're scattering ashes with your loved ones and friends, you may want to say a few words. There's no right or wrong way to do this, but if you're struggling for inspiration, we recommend sharing some memories, giving a thoughtful background on the person and their life, a poem or meaningful song lyrics.

Take some photos

When you scatter someone's ashes, it's usually all over quite quickly. It's worth having a pause, taking in the scenery around you and capturing the moment where all of your loved ones and friends are gathered together.

Stand upwind

Check which way the wind is blowing to make sure the wind carries the ashes away from you and your loved ones.

Hold the ashes at waist height

By scattering the ashes at waist height and scattering them gradually, you can be sure that they won't blow towards your face if the wind suddenly changes direction.

Save some of the ashes

You don't have to scatter all of the ashes at once. You could choose to scatter them in various locations or keep a small amount in an urn at home.

It's important to remember that when choosing your special location, you should always seek permission to scatter ashes first, look up guidance beforehand and always protect the environment.


In 2021, we analysed over 50 locations across the UK, including National Parks, beaches and lakes to find the most suitable locations to scatter ashes. We looked at Instagram data, ONS data, rainfall averages, plus laws and policies to develop and refine our list.

The thoughts and opinions expressed in the page are those of the authors, intended to be informative, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SunLife. See our Terms of Use for more info.