Diaries Magazine

Wishes and Ashes... a Guest Post from a Concerned Hill Walker

Posted on the 21 September 2013 by Ellenarnison @Ellen27

Wishes and Ashes... a guest post from a concerned hill walker

Beautiful and wild - Great Gable (pic by Alan Cleaver via Flickr)

I spend a lot of time walking the fells in the Lake District enjoying the views, ridges and fell tops and am increasingly aware of the presence of cremation ashes on the summits. This has led me to consider this relatively modern practice of disposing of the cremated remains of our loved ones and their wishes that their ashesare buried in a specific churchyard or scattered in a favorite location.
And it seems an increasing number of people who enjoy walking the hills of England, Scotland and Wales select some of the higher points as their chosen spot. On a recent visit to Gt Gable I noticed below the memorial on the top of this wonderful mountain there was a pile of cremation ashes – not scattered but it looked as though the urn of cremated ashes had been inappropriately  turned upside down and emptied of its contents.

Wishes and Ashes... a guest post from a concerned hill walker

The pile of 'cremation remains' found by Janet

A dog came along and sniffed amongst these remains. These and other ashes around the summit were being stood on by walkers reaching the summit – collecting some of the ashes on the bottom of their boots. It saddens me greatly to think that loved ones end up on the bottom of boots or paws and get stood on. I am also told that ashes can have environmental consequences enriching the soil with phosphates and affecting the survival of plants. Better guidelines on how and where cremation ashes are dealt with and end up are needed. Thanks to Janet A for this. I totally agree, there's much wider information needed about this. Various organisations such as the National Trust for Scotland, and the Co-op Funeralcare have issued advice. 
As far as I can see here's what you need to know: 
  • The whole dust-to-dust thing is misleading. Human ashes aren't in the least bit dusty - they are heavy and contain some quite big bits. They don't readily blow away. 
  • They are full of calcium and phosphorus and upset the delicate ecological balance. 
  • People find it upsetting to see their loved one's ashes being walked upon and, equally, no one wants to pick up human remains on their boots. 
  • There are so many other options and other ways of doing it. 

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