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cremation ashes on a river

Scattering Ashes Ceremony on a River or Lake

Scattering ashes on a RIVER or LAKE

If you choose a river you should be aware that the English Environment Agency say ‘It is acceptable’ with some provisos (see below). Basically you need to look out for others and don’t put anything in the river that will not degrade eg plastics.

Where to scatter

You can choose to scatter the ashes from a boat or the shoreline / riverbank. The choice is yours and each has it advantages:

From a boat: if you have access to a boat you can do it yourself .  If not, we can help, we work with a number of boat companies that operate across the UK and Ireland.

Advantages for a boat:  the main advantage it is totally private; you can reach more inaccessible places; it is easier to put the ashes into the water; and it is likely to feel more of an occasion.

From the waters edge: 

  • a bridge – if the bridge is high the ashes WILL blow about causing distress, use a journey water urn these can be dropped from a reasonable height and wont break
  • the riverbank – make sure it is not slippy, if the riverbank is man made check there is not a lip the the ashes could get stuck on

Advantages for a shore line: no additional cost, no restrictions on numbers; you choose your own timings and duration, no chance of seasickness!

Points to consider:

  • 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. If the site you have chosen is in regular use, we will need to assess it first to check there is enough water to disperse the ashes, that no one is using the water just downstream and that other river users are not going to be affected. Your faith group leader or undertaker should be able to tell you. If you are unsure if we have assessed a particular site, please phone your local Environment Agency office to check

Water Urns

If scattering  ashes on water, particularly from a boat you may wish consider getting an water urn  – these are containers that hold the ash and biodegrade completely in water. There are two main reasons for doing this:

  • The water is always breezy and the finer ash particles can get caught in the gusts and very often blow back and stick to the side of the boat.
  • The right sort urn will float for while and gently submerge below the surface allowing time to reflect or say some words. You can go to our page water urns.

Keepsakes and Mementos

Some people find scattering the ashes too final and too difficult to deal with, we have a range of ideas on keeping a little of the ashes back and kept in a discreet keepsake, these two are probably the most appropriate: Oil candle  or Glass Wave




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