Partially, it's a staffing issue. Many albergues are run on a voluntary basis, so having someone minding the door all night would be a problem. But it is also to facilitate good practice on the Camino. In the summer, it is essential that you leave early, as it means you avoid walking during the hottest part of the day and you have more chance of getting a bed in the busier albergues. But even out of the peak period, as I found today, leaving later just sets up for a difficult day of walking.
"Start as you mean to go on," they say, and this definitely applies on the Camino. I didn't leave until midday today, the second time in three days, and again I found that I lacked the motivation to cover the distance I had hoped. The sights were agreeable and the weather, though chilly, could have been worse, but I just didn't want to walk. I had been on my laptop for two hours this morning while I waited for the pharmacy to open (to help an injured friend), which set me up for a day of, well, anything but walking 25km.
Ponferrada peters out into a number of spacious villages/suburbs, where ponies roam the fields and farmers till the land. In Camponaraya, there is the option of an alternative route (to Carracedo del Monasterio), but I stuck to the main route, though even that didn't seem to follow the plan I have. I was getting frustrated as Villafranca didn't seem to be getting any closer. A little chocolate I had bought in Astorga perked me up for a bit, but by the time I reached Villafranca, I was ready to stop.
Tomorrow is my birthday and, despite wanting to treat myself to a lie in, I'm going to leave as early as possible!