At low tide the Camel estuary is full of sand banks and mud flats.
You can see where the tide is going to come to. The bare area will get covered while the areas of vegetation will stay dry unless there’s a storm and flooding.
Which tells you that this huge bank of material, just downstream from the town of Wadebridge, is sitting there in the channel all the time, dividing the River Camel into two paths. Rather handy if you want to build a bridge.
But think about the name for a moment. A widening and dividing channel, means the water is spreading sideways and is therefore not as deep. So before the bridge they did indeed wade, through a ford across the Camel at this point, and before the 1468 bridge the town was simply Wade.
It was a dangerous ford though; through tidal water, with gloopy mud to catch you out.
The vicar of nearby Egloshayle (eglos = church; hayle = estuary) was behind the construction of the original bridge and from then the town became Wadebridge.
Being situated at the lowest crossing point of the River Camel, made it a focus for roads, causing traffic congestion in the town. However, in 1991 a by-pass was opened providing a new lowest crossing point. (That’s lowest as in furthest down river – clearly not the lowest in height, with the trunk road crossing high above the estuary, to the west of Wadebridge.)